There are times in life when you have to choose your words carefully: when pulled over by a traffic officer for instance or when you are very late home and your wife is behind the door with a rolling pin. But especially when writing a letter seeking a job or writing your CV.
Some time back I suggested schools pay more attention to helping school-leavers write letters, especially when applying for a job and how some applicants try, usually with deadly effect, to be too clever. I quoted an example:
Last year South Africa celebrated, so quietly that you might have missed it, the 10th anniversary of my book Coming Back to Earth. It was an analysis of South Africa’s and the world’s state of the environment and coincided with the World Summit in Sandton. It was, in fact, my valedictory after 30 years of specialising in the green and the brown (urban) environments.
I wrote that South Africa was no longer a rural nation – by the 1990s it had become the first and only country in Africa to move from being mostly rural to becoming urban.
I wonder how much of our lives we waste listening to machines delivering apologetic messages saying: “All our agents are currently busy”? Sometimes it’s Telkom. Sometimes it’s the bank and, quite often, it’s my medical aid scheme.
They all use machines that monotonously crank out the same old message.
South Africa has a fairly recent law prohibiting the planting of alien trees. Personally, I think it’s far too wide in its scope. Why, at this stage, ban the planting of such handsome trees as non-invasive jacarandas and oaks?
This is why I was pleased to read an e-mail written by a retired teacher (who wishes to be anonymous) to a garden club member who supports the eradication of non-indigenous trees.
There was a light-hearted article in last month’s international Mensa journal suggesting that the mathematical chances of there being intelligent life elsewhere in the universe were high – but the aliens might well be “warm-blooded dinosaurs whose home planet was not hit by a very large rock”.