Don’t bank on it

Monday 12th September 2011

ITEM one in The Coalition: our programme for government covers banking. I am not confident that an independent commission’s report, due out this week, will offer much in the way of its promised ‘robust action to tackle unacceptable bonuses in the financial services sector’.

Striking members of the Trades Unions Congress are said to be ‘holding the country to ransom’. The phrase is never used of the demands made by moneylenders.

Here is a poem about language use. The Greek opening comes from the Gospel According to John. The second line is the usual translation.

Words ploughed into shares

έν άρχη ήν ό λογοs
in the beginning was the word
when every page was a slender leaf
and every song a bird

when every pen was a fountain
and every friend a pen
when stress was something rhythmical
and lays were something lyrical… way back when

when in came the treasurers
the marketeers and bankers
to plunder the language
and keep the books… the canker’s

spreading and now everything has changed
into small change and rates of exchange
because money makes the world go round…
there’s even a poet called ezra pound

and we have income brackets
and a penny for our thoughts
and we’re economical with the truth
because money talks

and when we open an account
it doesn’t mean we start a tale
and we have to pay the piper
what is owed to a nightingale

and because speech is silver
we have to buy a loud speaker
and when the poet coins a phrase
someone comes to read the metre

so just what are words worth
when silence is golden?
if all the writers went on strike
would they be said to be holdin’
the country to ransom?
i doubt it…

but take away the word
and the world is ’ell without it

so invest in the alphabet
and write and speak and sing
take an interest in vocabulary
before they cash it in
enrich your life with adjectives
and read and shout and rage
line your pockets with imperatives
to hurl against the age
charge the city with accusatives
before we reach the stage
where a shareholder’s certificate becomes
the bottom line on every page

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2 Responses to Don’t bank on it

  1. Anonymous says:

    very relevant – thank you

  2. It’s getting to the point where you can’t use the exclamation “wizard!” without having to send JK Rowling a royalty cheque!

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