Losing our (Elgin) marbles June 30, 2009Posted by Jane Matthews in acts of kindness.
Tags: acts of kindness, afternoon nap, Elgin Marbles, Kindness, petition, tuition fees
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Ah, petitions. Don’t we just love them? I may not have time for the barricades or to rally in Trafalgar Square every weekend. But, in my quest to be kind, notching up one more vote on someone’s heartfelt petition can be done without even leaving my desk.
Personally, I doubt the PM ever so much as glances in the direction of the thousands of petitions on the dedicated petition area of his website. (And am I alone in thinking that e-petitions feel a little bit cheaty? That tramping the streets, getting doors slammed in your face, or standing folornly in the city centre watching people pretend not to see you, somehow makes you more serious? That old British no-pain, no-gain thing again?)
I heartily recommend a few minutes cruising the PM’s site for any visitor to these shores seeking to get to grips with the British mindset. Where else would you find a petition to posthumously award a knighthood to football manager Bob Paisley (the computer says ‘no’) alongside one asking that Baronnes Thatcher should not get a state funeral (12,934 votes).
The first two I spot on the homepage are no-brainers. A petition demanding the UK government enters into meaningful conversation with the Greeks about returning the Elgin Marbles. Yes please. Only this morning I was exchanging emails with a friend about the spurious arguments we use to hang onto them. A work of art is just that: a single piece, even when it’s as large as the Parthenon. Imagine someone had carved up Michelangelo’s David. Would anyone seriously argue his arms should stay in London and his penis in Paris while his torso was displayed in Florence?
Then I sign one resisting university’s plans to increase tuition fees to plug their funding gap. Well, OK. I do have two teens at home about to begin the application process but I’ve also worked in a university. I know there’s slack in the administrative systems.
land of Nod
There’s so many more to choose from. So I look for one that can only boast a few sad signatures: you need 500 to qualify for a response from a civil servant drone using his auto-responder functio in a Whitehall basement.
Mmmm. So much choice: the petition to ban the media from court proceedings only has five votes but as a journo I can’t agree to that. Then there’s the measly six votes awarded for allowing aromatherapists and wiccan practitioners to treat animals.
Bingo! Just five votes for a petition ending today, 30 June, to make it mandatory for all schools and workplaces to introduce a daily 20 minute nap. I was brought up on napping. I didn’t always sleep, mind you, since my baby sister was in the next bed, always ready to play games with me.
But in this age of a snatched lunch at the computer screen, and long, long hours in the office, a mini-siesta is better than nothing. May Mr Simon Jay, the creator of the petition, plus his other supporters, Stuart Oxley, Stephanos, Elizabeth Zukowski and Victoria Lawlor, take heart from my late signature, and relaunch their campaign to make us a nation of daytime dozers.
And may you, dear reader, take your own tour of this wonderful site, and, in the interests of kindness, add your own signature to a handful of the wonderful, worthwhile, and the frankly whacky, petitions that you will find there.
Don’t forget to let me know if you find any gems…
Sewing the seeds of rejection June 26, 2009Posted by Jane Matthews in acts of kindness.
Tags: acts of kindness, Kindness, rejection, tomato plants
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I guess it’s the unseasonal sunshine (well this is England in Wimbledon week) but my thoughts are still on all things outdoorsy. Specifically, the state of my greenhouse.
It must have been beginner’s luck that caused last year’s tomato and cucumber glut. This year, every seed I planted seemed to poke its head above the soil, take a look around, and decide it wasn’t that bothered about growing to adulthood after all.
Instead of blaming the weather or the soil I blamed the seeds and continued buying more and more packets. I suppose I should have paid attention to those who say the secret of gardening is patience. A glimpse of sunshine and every tomato and cucumber seed I’d planted – and, bafflingly, some I didn’t – is making a dash for the greenhouse ceiling. In a few week’s time it’ll look like a rainforest in there.
So today I whipped out some of the plants, set them in pots and spread them on an old table at the end of my drive inviting people to help themselves.
Six hours on, they’re still there, minus one tomato plant that my sister took, because, I think, she was feeling sorry for me.
Which is interesting, because now I think about it I’m feeling a little sad myself, hurt that no-one wants my gifts. The more I consider it the more I realise this small event carries the echoes of all those other times when whatever I was offering wasn’t good enough:
- being amongst the last to be chosen when the most popular girls in the class were selecting their teams
- being turned down by someone I was certain was The One
- getting a standard rejection letter from a literary agent
- not being invited back…
and on and on. You know the sort of thing because you’ve almost certainly been there too.
taking it personally
The only time I didn’t take it personally was when I did a car boot sale with a friend - and recognised on his table at least four gifts I’d given him over the years. The reason it didn’t hurt was because I’d got five of his gifts in my car boot haul, but had hidden them under the table when I realised we’d be together so as not to hurt his feelings. I guess the time’s come to suggest we don’t buy each other presents.
Back to feelings of rejection: I think most of us have been taking it personally all our lives. Look what I wrote a moment ago: “Whatever I was offering wasn’t good enough.”
But is it true?
touching that nerve
Of course not. The truth is that most people around here already have big gardens stuffed with vegetables. That it’s been pouring with rain all morning so the usual procession of dog walkers and mums with prams have been stuck indoors. And that lots of people prefer their food to come in plastic wrappers and wouldn’t trust a homegrown vegetable any more than they’d trust someone with a runny nose who’d just come back from Mexico.
It doesn’t have to be about us. Which is an important thing to remember while I’m on this being nicer journey.
For isn’t fear of rejection another reason we stay stuck in our comfort zones:
What if people reject my kindness?
What if I do something nice and they misunderstand?
What if they say no and I LOOK FOOLISH?
At which point I need to remind myself of the alternative. That, like my tomato plants a few weeks ago, the seeds stay stuck in the ground, no use to anyone.
Wondering if you’ve had any kindnesses turned down or misunderstood? Or if there have been times when you didn’t do something nice for fear of being rejected? Let me know…
Scents in the city June 23, 2009Posted by Jane Matthews in acts of kindness.
Tags: acts of kindness, Aldbury, Ashridge, Britain in Bloom, Conniburrow, Kindness
In the days when biscuits came in fancy tins and chocolates in boxes tied with ribbon the village of Aldbury must have featured on all of them.
It’s the classic picture postcard village, from its duckpond and stocks to its immaculate thatched cottages with scarlet and pink roses trailing lazily over old beams. Close enough to a US vision of Englishness for the makers of Bridget Jones to choose it as a location.
And an absolute honeytrap for Sunday afternoon trippers dreaming of a time when every place looked like it does in This England magazine.
Aldbury has got Morris Men, two pubs, a village shop and street names that tell a story, such as Toms Hill Rd.
It’s also got front gardens to die for. It’s as if the people of Aldbury don’t mind the rest of us rubber-necking into their lives, for if they did they surely wouldn’t put so much effort into creating such dazzling floral displays of colour, contrast and glorious perfume.
My sister and I dragged our feet and breathed deep as we passed through the village on a circular walk around Ivinghoe and Ashridge. (A quick, extra act of kindness here for you, dear reader, who needs to know that another perfect outing is to the National Trust cafe at Ashridge where the fresh cream scones are the size of small mountains and the carrot cake melts like chocolate.)
As we lingered over each manicured flowerbed, it struck me how grateful I am to those who garden for our pleasure as much as for their own. None of that keeping the best china for months with a ‘z’ in them: they’re happy to share their green-fingered abundance with anyone who happens to be passing.
Something I can say with more feeling since inheriting a cottage garden of my own. It came with the house we bought three years back and has taught me that it doesn’t happen all by itself – and that the neighbour who assured me ten minutes a day was all it would take to look after it lied through his fork.
scents in the city
Before we came to this cottagey corner of Milton Keynes we lived in the inner city estate of Conniburrow, which is as much like Aldbury as cream cakes are like sawdust (or Mr Kipling cakes, depending on your taste).
Conniburrow was good to us so I don’t want to rubbish it. Let’s just say that lots of people do. Literally. A short walk through Conniburrow today revealed the usual mix: abandoned microwaves, broken glass, a purple velour sofa, a sad pair of trainers dangling from a lampost.
And, in the main, overgrown, neglected gardens, or no gardens at all. Most of those brave enough to try and beautify their little piece of this sometimes troubled estate seem to do so behind a tall fence. I can still recall how upset my children – much younger then – were, when someone chopped off all our roseheads and scattered the petals up the street. A day in the life.
Perhaps if you live in Aldbury you feel pressured to keep your garden immaculate. If you live in Conniburrow it’s most likely the opposite, fearful of drawing attention to your home. Which makes those few who do create something special from their handkerchief plots – and share it with the rest of us – true heroes in my view.
I found a small garden down a back street and decided to write its owners a thank you card. It was just a simple message: ‘thank you from a passer-by for brightening up the street with your lovely garden’. But I hope it goes some way towards making a few of the hours they must spend on it worthwhile. And makes up for those other days when someone lobs a beer can or an old carpet into the middle of it.
I was about to sign off when I realised I should also send a card, via that village shop, to the good people of Aldbury. They may not have to contend with microwaves and sofas but it’s no less hard work, giving the rest of us something to enjoy.
Look out for it if you ever visit, alongside all their Britain in Bloom trophies.
If you want to hand out any of your own bouquets for beautiful gardens be sure to report back.
A low point on the Western heights June 17, 2009Posted by Jane Matthews in acts of kindness.
Tags: asylum seekers, Dover Immigration Removal Centre, Kindness, Refugee Council, Refugee Week, refugees, The Citadel, The Other Hand
And I thought traffic wardens were hard to track down.
Let me explain. This week is National Refugee Week and before the news agenda got hijacked by the story about how Belfast has welcomed Romanian families to its streets, the Refugee Council and other groups were running a high profile campaign suggesting we should all do a simple act of kindness for refugees in our area.
Juliet Stevenson has been telling stories to refugees, and MPs, Sky and Guardian staff got involved in a ‘play football with a refugee’ tournament.
I thought I might do the same. Not play football, I mean, but find some way of helping out.
drawing a blank
However, an internet search for refugees and asylum seeker services in Milton Keynes led to one blank web page after another. So I headed to the local library where they keep a list of local clubs and societies.
The librarian was a star, going through all the same online hoops that I’d tried, only with a little more muttering. She tried the phone, and got the sort of runaround I’d assumed her colleagues saved for hapless members of the public: first the ‘it’s not us but we’ll put you through’; then the ‘I’m new here but I’ll see if anyone knows’; and finally, after holding for five minutes, the news that she was going to be put through to somewhere else.
At which point she was cut off.
Slough of despond
That left the directories, but there was now a queue behind me and I really couldn’t see how it would be kind to leave folks waiting any longer. We’d been at it for half an hour and got no further than a number for a refugee support group in Slough. I suppose if you’ve travelled thousands of miles to reach the UK another 70 is neither here nor there.
So that was that. For now.
welcome to Britain
But I’m not giving up on this one. I want to come back to it – a feeling that dates from a walk I took with mother and mother-in- law on the bit of Dover’s white cliffs known as the Western Heights. Somehow we went the wrong way, through briar and bramble, until the sea view was entirely lost and we found ourselves on the town side of the cliff, prevented from climbing back up by barbed wire and a deep moat.
Half a mile and many nettle stings later all became clear. In front of us was a high fence with lookouts and cameras, and behind it the walls of an assessment and repatriation centre for refugees and asylum seekers. One of the bleakest spots I’ve ever been.
This was August and nature was at its lushest, as the scratches on our legs proved. Yet getting up close to the boundary fence was like stepping into a black hole. The air was literally silent. Nothing moved. Even the seagulls had designated it a no-go zone, as if all the pain and hopelessness contained behind those emotionless walls acted as a forcefield, repulsing any sign of normal life.
It shook me to the core to imagine the despair of those inside, having come in search of a refuge, and found the word may also mean fortress.
I don’t intend to go into the rights and wrongs of our immigration policies (though if you want to put a human face to Home Office statistics you might like to get a copy of The Other Hand - one of the most moving and powerful books I’ve read this year). Except to say that while I understand the many ways in which fear overrides positive emotions, for me it boils down to simple humanity. Doing what feels human and right.
Not criminalising people who are guilty only of wanting choice, opportunity, hope, life.
Though I haven’t yet managed to find a refugee to invite to dinner, or assembled a footie team, I have written this blog on National Refugee Week. And am about to direct you to a list of other very manageable suggestions on the campaign website.
Some of the items are as simple as finding out the meaning of ‘refuge’ or learning a few words in another language. If you do any of the simple acts on the list let us know!
Thatcher: my part in her downfall June 16, 2009Posted by Jane Matthews in acts of kindness.
Tags: acts of kindness, food bank, homelessness, Kindness, Thatcher's Britain
I promise I don’t spend my life in the supermarket. It’s just that food-shop day comes around so quickly. (Though never quickly enough for The Two Teenagers, who by lunchtime the following day are complaining ‘there’s nothing to eat in the house’ – which translates as ‘we’ve eaten all the treats; you surely don’t expect us to eat the healthy stuff?)
This small insight into my failings as a parent is relevant because today as I wrote the shopping list I was thinking about people for whom it really is true that there’s nothing to eat in the house.
I confess that the first time I heard that Milton Keynes had a Food Bank I was sceptical.
A scepticism born of blind faith in the UK’s Welfare State for which there is no excuse. After all, didn’t I once make a few hundred quid in my local journalist days, selling on to the nationals my story about the homeless family who’d been given money to buy a tent? This was Thatcher’s Britain and there was a six week delay in dealing with housing benefit. Which meant no-one would take thethis young mother and her two under 5s in.
The £150 Milletts voucher to buy a tent came from an emergency fund in another bit of social services. And probably cost its instigator his job, when government PR folk saw, on every front page, a photograph of a woman and two toddlers peering out from their canvas home beneath ‘Has it come to this?’ headlines.
Back to the Food Bank. Thatcher may no longer be a force to be reckoned with but neither is the Welfare State, especially as the recession continues to trigger more bankcruptcies and redundancy, plus a rise in domestic violence and relationship breakdown brought on by stress.
The Food Bank is a small charity set up to distribute food parcels to those literally on the breadline. And you can track the effects of the recession by tracking its growth. Between 2007 and 2008 the numbers of adults it kept from starving doubled to 1,656 and the number of children trebled to 734. It expects those figures to double again this year.
It seemed fitting that I should drop off a food donation on my way to filling our stomachs for the week.
The food parcel I assembled was a bit of a lucky dip: a couple of cans of tuna and three of sardines, two supermarket own-brand tomato soups (which apparently don’t taste like Heinz), pasta, shortbread biscuits, rice, a syrup sponge and a family pack of McCoys crisps (in the spirit of last week’s resolution that I need to climb out of the ‘too good to give away’ mindset and give from my heart rather than always from my head).
At the Food Bank one of the volunteers gave me a list of the things they’re currently short of: biscuits, pasta sauce, tinned fruit, tinned vegetables, long life fruit juice and milk.
Still. She didn’t reject the family pack of crisps. Even the penniless, jobless, homeless and hopeless are allowed the odd treat. I reckon next time I’ll slip some chocolate in amongst the vegetables.
What are your memories of taking food donations in for harvest festival? Could we persuade supermarkets to have a box for food donations the way pet stores do for pet food donations?
Tags: charity shops, Kindness, Mary Portas, volunteer
Aah, I wonder how many people in locked rooms it took to get permission to make Mary Queen of Charity Shops - in which the funny but fearsome Mary Portas attempts a makeover of the cuckoos in our high street: charity shops. Well done Save the Children for signing up despite the certainty that pushy Mary and her even pushier producers would speedily alienate a) the volunteers and b) the customers – leaving no-one to buy or sell.
I mean it’s hard enough to find volunteers in the first place. One of the things I learned watching the programme is that giving your time as a charity shop volunteer means sifting out the odd saleable item from a mound of soiled underwear and shirts with yellow stains under the arms. These folk deserve medals not Mary’s meddling.
I want you to know I have never, ever bundled my underwear in with the other stuff designated for the charity shop. But nor have I ever donated anything I thought I had a half-chance of selling. Not so much because I wanted the money, or the joy of haggling with a determined car boot buyer over whether my high-end high street trousers are worth 50p or £1. But because buried somewhere in my own particular fusty corner is the thought some things are Too Good for the charity shop.
Shame on me! For isn’t the truth that donating something worth having to a charity shop is doubling up on niceness: helping raise money for a cause I believe in and at the same time raising the spirits of whoever discovers my natty tailored trousers in amongst the Florence and Freds and elasticated waistbands?
For the last three weeks I’ve been tripping over just such a pile of costly clothing mistakes that were ‘too good to give away’. As I tripped and hit my nose on the mirror this morning I made up my mind to ferry the whole lot down to the Oxfam shop. Even the Monsoon wine-coloured Angora cardigan which feels like silk but is so fine its fibres make my eyes sore.
The volunteer in Oxfam wanted to talk about the programme. “It’s all very well for her, but people just won’t pay. Something might be worth £900 but who’s going to come in here and spend £200 on it?”
What’s in a name?
Still, the programme may have tweaked a few consciences as well as my own. The old favourites were still there: bobbled jumpers, fuschia track suits and faded duvet covers. But in amongst them I spotted a lovely cream jacket from Zara, a glorious evening dresse from Whistles plus shirts from Minuet and Kaliko.
Not in the Jimmy Choo league, I grant you, but more likely to find a buyer than secondhand underwear.
Would you give your unwanted Gucci to a charity shop? What’s been the hardest thing to handover? And does it count as kindness when your main motive is to free up space in your wardrobe – nature abhors a vacuum!
Great blog from self-confessed charity shop addict on where to go and what to look for.
Brought to book! June 5, 2009Posted by Jane Matthews in acts of kindness.
Tags: bookcrossing, Kindness, Louise Hay, Waterstone's, You Can Heal Your Life
Let me explain. I’ve heard of this trend for leaving books in public places so that others can enjoy them. So I thought today I’d do that: choose a book that means a great deal to me and set it free.
Now the book-lovers among you will know that giving away a favourite book is the equivalent of donating your organs to medical science while you’re still alive and using them. Which might seriously have compromised my act of kindness (I’m not sure buying a second copy to give away is quite in the spirit of this experiment which I want to test my limits) – except for the fact that I already have TWO copies of the book that changed my life.
Actually, there’s more than one book that changed my life: Susan Jeffers Feel the fear and do it anyway was a revelation and before that The Women’s Room by Marilyn French and, curiously, long, long before fear and feminism, the Ladybird book of David Livingstone, which planted in my 7-year-old imagination a dream of visiting Africa. And since it was in Africa that I met my husband and went on to have two children, that small book costing 2/6 must have altered the course of my life more than any other.
Still, the most recent titleholder is Louise Hay’s You Can Heal Your Life, which taught me all about taking responsibility for my own life and the thoughts and beliefs that create it. It also taught me about gratitude and forgiveness and living in the moment and a zillion other things, which you’ll need to read the book yourself to find out about. Or come on one of my workshops.
Back to the present and making a present of the book: I wrote a message on a card to whoever it is that will pick up the book, and slipped it inside the front: If you have picked this up because the title struck a chord with you then please accept this book as a gift from me. I hope it will help change the way you see and live your life as it did for me.
I had no definite plan about where to leave it. In true Louise Hay-style I decided just to trust the right spot would show up. And sure enough, as I headed back to the car after an urgent mission buying tennis balls for my son (oh, there are so many ways in which my life was changed by that Ladybird book!) I passed Waterstone’s and thought of the self help section upstairs. Where better for my battered old book to find someone who really needs it?
Weirdly, trying to put something on the shelves felt like shoplifting, checking the walls for CCTV and the gangways for Waterstone’s staff. All the while expecting to feel a hand on my collar and someone accusing me of defrauding the shop.
I suppose in a way I was. Waterstone’s sell the book, after all, so I was preventing someone spending the £9.99 cover price with them.
Except that life being the wonderfully serendipitous thing it is, I’m pretty certain whoever picks the book up wouldn’t necessarily have even known they needed it until the – distinctly 1980s glamrock – front cover shouted at them PICK ME UP!
And except that, as I carefully placed my book at eye level in the centre of the shelf, another book, costing exactly £9.99, that I didn’t necessarily know I needed, had the cheek to shout at me. Reader, what could I do? I bought it.
What goes around, comes around, as I keep discovering.
And I couldn’t resist sharing this with you:
how the bookshops must have struggled with what to call this burgeoning market for true stories of abuse, survival and redemption.
I’m very tempted to plot a guerilla action in which every single title is replaced by a Ladybird book…
Screaming for ice cream June 3, 2009Posted by Jane Matthews in acts of kindness.
Tags: casualty, cornetto, Kindness, MPs, Prime Minister, traffic wardens
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Chose an easy one today when I decided since it was hot, hot, hot I’d buy a couple of boxes of ice creams for folk whose work was keeping them indoors when some of us were lucky enough to be out to play. (Yes this blog is play – I count any kind of ‘work’ you love as play.)
Even so, there was a lesson in it about the limits of my kindness.
I decided the handing-out-ice-creams gesture would have more meaning if I gave the cartons of raspberry and choc nut cornettos to a group of people most of us don’t usually feel kindly towards: estate agents, tax officers, bouncers, taxi drivers, MPs and Prime Ministers.
I settled on traffic wardens because I find it hard to believe anyone would do a job whose sole purpose is to make others miserable, unless they have literally no alternative – having been rejected even by those who recruit staff to serve fried chicken to drunks at 2am.
Sadly, it turns out traffic wardens are so fearful of getting customer feedback they don’t let anyone know where they hide out.
Which left just one more group on my list: the staff at the local job centre, rebranded so many times I have absolutely NO idea what it’s called these days.
I couldn’t do it. Two weeks in, yet the milk of human kindness turned sour at the thought of delivering ice cream cornettos to a bunch whose members have been known to heap humiliation on those who are already down.
“It’s such a hot day, I thought you might all enjoy these.”
Behind the desk the two reception staff had long since learned how to keep a straight face in the middle of everyday carnage and misery. Yet their expressions cracked into a sunny smile as they accepted my gift – without batting an eyelid,or asking for anything by way of an explanation.
Of course! Doctors and nurses are given gifts all the time. My sister, who works in a GP surgery, received five cards, chocolates and flowers from patients on Valentine’s day, for heaven’s sake.
It was only as I turned to leave that I saw the heaving crowd in the waiting room, hot, bothered, bored, eyes following the red electronic letters moving across the information board ‘waiting time five hours’ in horror. I swear that in 15 years that dammed board has never dipped below four hours. Is it niave to think they could just bring in a few extra staff for a couple of days and clear the backlog so we could all start again?
I wished I’d chosen differently who to give my ice creams to… Next time?
Never mind my ice creams, here’s an act of kindness with a cherry and whipped cream on top. Great fun!
The blind leaving the blind June 1, 2009Posted by Jane Matthews in acts of kindness.
Tags: mindful, mindfulness
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It’s only just beginning to dawn on me how many hundreds of opportunities there are in a single day to be a nicer person. I don’t mean the grand gestures, but the ordinary things that mark us out as human rather than automatons. Saying good morning to the sour-looking salesgirl when I buy my paper; asking a colleague how the weekend went and – the tough bit – actually listening to the answer; saying hi to a neighbour rather than pretending I haven’t spotted him in case he wants to stop and chat.
It’s a question of seeing the opportunities…ironically..since the first moment of this particular day involved a blind man.
I was racing along to an early morning meeting, headlights on and wipers wailing at the effort of trying to keep up with the rain. When I spotted a middle aged man with a white stick, standing at the bus stop in the deluge.
I spotted him – and I drove on. Even though it felt like life was shouting at me; something along the lines of “you say you’re going to be nicer, so here, I’ve gift-wrapped this one: blind man, rainy day, empty seat in your car…”.
For all I knew the blind man might be enjoying the smell of rain on pavements and looking forward to meeting his friends on the bus.
Running on automatic
Hmm. Obviously the reason I didn’t stop was that I live the majority of my life on automatic, and my brain, body and the hands gripping the wheel were already pre-programmed to a) leave the house at 8.20 b) take 10 minutes to drive to the coffee shop c) arrive to meet ex-colleaat work at 8.30am precisely.
How many of those 16 or so waking hours do we all spend like that, constantly focused on the next thing? And as the momentum of the day builds, what does it take to slow down, much less divert, to notice the way the rain’s turned the surface of the canal into a bubbling cauldron – or to offer a lift to a soggy man with a white stick?
I wasn’t being actively unkind. Just choosing to remain on automatic rather than human mode.
The regret kicked in immediately, especially as I started to recall all the times in my life people have gone out of their way for me.
Rescue in the mountains
Twenty five years ago I was skiing with friends on top of a mountain in Austria when the weather turned. It was dusk, we were on the wrong side of the mountain, and, as the wind whistled itself into a fury, the ski lift gave a last, ominous gasp, and ground to a halt.
There was no prospect of trying to climb back to the top in the gloom. Our only choice was to ski down into the next valley and take our chances on finding some means of getting back to our hotel.
An hour later we knocked on the door of a farmhouse at the foot of the mountain, explained our predicament and asked for directions to a bus or rail station. The grizzled couple who answered told us there were no services between the valleys at this time of year and ushered us into their parlour to wait until they’d eaten their supper and could drive us back to the hotel.
Let’s be clear, this wasn’t a short hop to the nearest town. The human race may have managed to get people onto the moon but unless you’re Julie Andrews the only way across the mountains is by driving along the length of one valley and then back along the next. Three hours each way in blizzard conditions. The equivalent of driving a group of strangers from London to Manchester, and then back home.
Now that’s going out of your way to help.
Have you ever gone out of your way for anyone? Or had someone go out of their way for you? Love to know…