Unthinkable Exclusion

Walking up through the small Portuguese town of Odemira yesterday, I noticed a line of jaunty purple and grey umbrellas hanging from the trees in the park.

umb02Suspended from each umbrella were various cards with short pieces of text on them.

Now my Portuguese isn’t brilliant but I got the gist of the messages. They were all to do with social exclusion and included statistics on the number of adults in the area who are illiterate, the number of children who fail basic exams etc.

Made me think. I worry about editing my books, inspiration for the next novel and how to get my message across in the most effective fashion.

It’s hard to imagine that there are still people for whom the written word is a total no-go area. I realise that oral storytelling predates literature by a long way but I really couldn’t imagine a world without books. It seems so unfair. Unthinkable.

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3 responses to “Unthinkable Exclusion”

  1. Sharon Bonin-Pratt says :

    The umbrellas are a lovely visual but represent a terrible chasm.We who write ache when we realize that there are many who are unable to read. Truly a shame and one that can be corrected. One that should be corrected. Yet it’s hard to know how.

    • Huw Thomas says :

      I don’t have answers either. My initial response when I saw the umbrellas was that it was some kind of quirky art installation. Then I looked at the cards hanging from them and realised that there was a very real message.
      Portugal is still one of the poorest European countries so no surprise that there are social problems as well as economic ones but I know that there are also still big divides in the UK between those who are fully part of society and those who are still outside for one reason or another.
      Personally, I could cope with being poor (or I’d like to think so) but I’m not sure if I could cope with being excluded from books, education, knowledge…

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