This is the first night I've had to myself (and the family) for a while and having spent nearly half an hour changing a headlamp bulb in my car and ripping my hands to shreds in the process, I am just about to go and watch the European Cup semi-final between Manchester United and Arsenal. I love football but I'm strictly a neutral, normally favouring the underdog. I'm not going to rush this blog and I suspect it may take a couple of hours at least to finish because I want to mention two things:
The first is another trip down Memory Lane to my childhood in the sixties and the old house and television and the second is to think about an extraordinary act of kindness shown by a particular work colleague and some other colleagues who were party to a real surprise for me yesterday; so much so I was lost for words.
Boris Johnson, Mayor of London once said, "I don't see why people are so snooty about Channel 5. It has some respectable documentaries about the Second World War. It also devotes considerable airtime to investigations about lap dancing and other related and vital subjects."
Although my parents were not well off, far from it, they moved, after they were married and had me, into a Victorian house owned I think by my aunt and uncle and my grandparents lived with us too. I was prompted to think about the return trip to test the memory by a picture of an old fashioned television the other day and I began to think about ours. Black and white of course with a twelve inch screen and rented from Rediffusion. It was cable then and there was a switch on the wall through which you could tune in the radio - the light programme and one or two others, or one of the two television channels (BBC and ITV). The TV had to warm up because it had valves in the inside which you could see through the back panel, glowing in some cases. The entertainment I do recall was watching the little white dot slowly disappear over a number of minutes when the TV was switched off and the end of the day and programming finished around 10 pm-ish in those days.
Then of course revolution came and the move to colour and BBC 2 came about, but our black and white television had some difficulties in coping viewing the colour channel in black and white. So, for BBC 1 and ITV, they were still on the old 425 lines, a very grainy picture, badly defined. If you wanted to watch BBC 2, you had to press a huge button on the side of the television which converted the picture to 625 lines, clearer and for the day, pin sharp (but not against today's High Definition standards) albeit still black and white. I can recall kids coming to school and claiming to have seen colour on their black and white televisions!
The stupid thing is I can hardly remember any programmes from that early time and I'm not sure I understand why; since I have started to meditate some six years ago, my memory recall has been much better. I have a faint recollection of watching Perry Mason or something similar and perhaps even Tales from the Riverbank. The industrial strife of the early seventies meant that the big old house was devoid of electricity often as power strikes went on then and we couldn't watch the TV or listen to radio until my mother bought a battery operated radio and my parents listened to pirate radio - Radio Caroline. I've heard snippets from it since and it was hip for the day I suppose.
And this leads very nicely to another positive experience and that was the kindness of a colleague and all-round good man Bryan who, on his own initiative and without my knowledge decided to write something very positive about me to the management team. Other colleagues who he consulted, in private of course, gave their experiences of working with me and the outcome was that my work was recognised. Unusually, I was gobsmacked at the time I found out and I never thanked him other than jibbering some rubbish - I wrote an e-mail to him to thank him properly. This is a second and public thank-you.
Acts of kindness, they can be described as nothing else as this one was, is a clear recognition that there is much respect for our fellow human in our society today. The unselfish attitude, both caring and thoughtful takes such a small amount of our time and it generally gets repaid a thousand times in my belief system. Stopping to let a disabled person cross the crossing in front of us which we know will take more time than usual; holding the door for someone who is struggling with their shopping and the pram; saying 'thank-you' - all those things and believing that there is good in people is such a small price to pay for making others feel valued and not ignored. When that kindness is repaid, doesn't it make you feel good?
"A good character is the best tombstone. Those who loved you and were helped by you will remember you when forget-me-nots have withered. Carve your name on hearts, not on marble." Charles H. Spurgeon