About a month ago, at a final sale in a charity shop on Whitefriargate, I bought 5 books for £1. One of them is the memoir of Hull-born actor Tom Courtenay. Actually, it is a narrated collection of the letters his mother wrote him to London during his studies and the first few years of his career, between 1955 and 1962, the year of her premature death. Reading just a few pages at night before sleep or in the morning after waking up, gives an emotional boost, variably heartwarming or sad. Apart from the social atmosphere of the fishing and dock worker community on Hessle road and the working class in Hull more generally, glimpses at the trials and tribulations of a famous artist as a young man, the real treasures of the book are those clumsy but artful, funny, touching paragraphs by “Mam” which show the poetry of trivial everyday life events, ambitions never fulfilled and a hard-working life shadowed by illness and impending early death. Yet this excerpt shows the gentleness of the father-son relationship.
I shall return to the term in the title – it is worth serious discourse analysis how it has become so widespread in public language of the UK in recent decades. Some cases show the absurdity or frivolity of talking about value and money in one breath.