That I wrote in yesterday’s post how after I’d completed it I was returning to [writing] “Robert,” “Henry,” “Carolina,” “Marie-Thérèse,” and others in the late 1700s, pushed my mind to thinking on that word so many university students fear: history.
I thought it was worth “attacking” this morning. As a lecturer, I saw “the look” in so many students’ eyes. The mere word “history” is enough to terrify even the best of non-history majors:
Father-in-law [on the phone yesterday, speaking to an old friend (also in his 80s) who’d just lost a brother, and now moving on subject wise]: “….You have our condolences. How’s your son? My youngest is doing much better, and his three are marvelous….”
Mrs. Nello [in the next room with me, overhearing, observes like a BBC sports presenter]: “The opening serve from Dad. It’s in. No return. Dad’s up, 15-Love.”
Mrs. N: “The bragging about grandchildren is like a tennis match. Back and forth trying to top each other. Haven’t you ever noticed?”
F-in-L [to the man on the phone]: “Well, and my eldest grandson is at Oxford.”
Yesterday’s post opened revolving around my younger nephew. His brother is now age 21 and at St. Hugh’s College, Oxford, doing Classics. He was around for the weekend due to his Dad’s “half century” birthday, and we volunteered to drive him back to his Oxford flat – he doesn’t live at St. Hugh’s itself – late Sunday afternoon.
He being with us for a couple of nights gave us a chance to chat in person. His thesis topic compares Descartes and Plato. I won’t go into more detail; indeed I’m not sure if I even can at this time on a Monday morning.😉
After he explained, he surprised me when he asked me if I had a copy of my latest novel. (Although we’ve discussed my writing several times before.) Fortunately, I had a paperback “proof” of Distances within easy digging out reach. After I’d found it, as he inspected it, we talked.
My brother-in-law had a “big” birthday yesterday – the same as I’d had back in September.
At the party yesterday, which was held in a restaurant, we sat at a table with my youngest nephew, who’s now 14. He held court, dominating the table talk. Also at our table were my wife, my mother-in-law and my father-in-law.
At first, he offered insights into video games and PlayStation vs. X-Box, about which his grandparents looked totally confused, and bordered on too much even for us at times. Unsurprisingly, he began drifting into talking about his friends, then his teachers, his grades and his school generally. Then he came to school life – the “unsocial” side of it in particular.
He’s an excellent student, but we all know school can also be, well, school. We’ve all been through it in one form or another. Bullying came up, followed by his sharing some ugly examples of what happens occasionally in classes and in hallways.
Horrified, suddenly my 85 year old father-in-law spoke up: “Why, they [kids these days] are barbarians. In my day, the headmaster would take care of matters, and you didn’t misbehave again.”
“Teachers can’t hit students nowadays,” I reminded him.
We’ve all seen the Oscars’ debate about “diversity” in film. That led me over the last few days to thinking about books, including my own. Although not nearly as media-prominent, literature is seeing much the same discussion as film – especially children’s books:
It is argued not unreasonably that children seeing characters “like themselves” is good for them. Beyond that:
….Dhonielle Clayton, vice president of We Need Diverse Books, stressed that good storytelling on a range of topics benefits all children and young adults, not just ones who belong to the communities they portray. “By having kids read cross-culturally, it really helps them have a common language of accepting and understanding,” Clayton said.
Writing for children is not my genre, of course. So I’ll leave children’s literature to children’s authors. Yet the matter is relevant in its own way for us in “grown up” literature, too.
It’s days like this – if you don’t have to be anywhere, or even go out at all – you can say I’m going to kick back for a while and have a read. Starting on Adele Archer’sInternational Relations the other day also reminded me about one of my growing concerns. Now that I am writing novels, I feel I don’t have as much time as I once did to read.
We seem beset lately with academics being funded to study high-profile, fantasist entertainment. We’ve recently been informed that “Disney Princesses” are dangerous to young girls. Now, for older ones, it’s being widely reported that so are the likes of Love, Actually:
….The plot of “The Little Mermaid,” of course, involves Ariel literally losing her voice — but in the five Disney princess movies that followed, the women speak even less. On average in those films, men have three times as many lines as women.
Good morning! A group participation post. Don’t you just hate those?
Don’t groan, I won’t be going around “the room” looking to each of you individually, putting you on the spot. No need to avert your eyes or slide down in your chair; there are no wrong answers to these two simple questions. You may share your replies in the comments if you wish – which would seem obvious, I suppose, given naturally I can’t compel you to answer, of course.😉
Okay, I’m going to risk showing my age again here. If you are around mine, you likely recall this as well. We are perhaps of the last generation that actually wrote letters on paper, by hand, which we stamped and put into the post:
I recall email catching fire when we were in our twenties – in the early 1990s. I got my first PC in 1994. The web came on about the same time.