The kindness of strangers…….
During this pandemic a light has shone very brightly – kind, community/neighbour focussed actions. Often, for the doer, a small thing while for the beneficiary it can often be the thing that cheers their week and says to them, subliminally, ‘I mean something to someone’. As well as shopping done, prescriptions collected, catch up telephone calls made it has manifested itself in organising birthday cards and virtual parties for recent Centenarians and a myriad of other heart-warming actions. It’s just meant being a bit more aware of our fellow man and the strength of community. During lockdown this has never been more important, and I really do hope that that spirit of caring and kindness can and will continue as we take the tentative steps back to more normal times.
If I may, I want to share one thing that happened to me recently. I relay it because I think it makes my point above so well. A few weeks ago, on a wet morning, I was, along with others, volunteering to help with the logistics of the vaccine centre at The Exchange in Sturminster Newton. A lady from Margaret Marsh was waiting for her neighbour who she had driven to the surgery (itself an act of kindness) for a blood test. We fell, as you do, into conversation. I was so well swaddled against the elements, masked and hatted she had no idea to whom she was chatting. She asked me if we were given refreshments to sustain us during our shift. I did the full ‘o woe is me act’ of which my wife and daughters are only too familiar. “Well,” I said, “we do get the occasional cup of coffee served when they remember the troops out here at the front but that’s it. Not even a biscuit!” (Pausing here for a moment, and in order to avoid a Legal Action, Sharon the Exchange’s Acting Manager does look after us). Her friend came out of the surgery, we bade our farewells, and off they drove. Twenty minutes later the lady returned in her car, drew up alongside me with a smile on her face and handed me a full carrier bag of tea, coffee and biscuits “for the volunteers and nurses etc to enjoy during a break”. Off she went. I don’t know the lady’s name; she was a stranger with whom I had chatted for a few minutes. We may never meet again. I must confess to being incredibly moved, as were the others on duty, by that tremendously generous and spontaneous act of kindness. Of niceness. Of care. I doubt she will ever know (unless of course she is reading this publication and let’s be frank, who isn’t?) how much that single act meant to us. It was beyond the price of rubies and emeralds. It was Blanche DuBois in A Streetcar Names Desire who says, “I have always depended on the kindness of strangers.” If spontaneous and unselfish kindness is a legacy of Covid that creates few strangers in our communities and lives then that will be a blessing to cherish.
While I can’t promise tea and biscuits, if you do need any help or advice then do please get in touch with me. My email address is: firstname.lastname@example.org or you can write to me: Simon Hoare MP, The Stables, Whitecliff Gardens, Blandford Forum, DT11 7BU or on 01258 452585