Friday, 7 July 2017

The TRUE British Worthies

Some of my diary entries in recent days and weeks have been, shall I say, pessimistic.  

I have shared fears I have for the future of the society in which we live. On Wednesday I was speaking about British Worthies and how difficult it would be to emulate the eighteenth century monument in Stowe Gardens. Who could we possibly put into a twenty-first century monument.

Yesterday evening I attended a party to celebrate fifty years of our local community centre. My job there was to take photographs of the event.

We ate our meal then the music started to play. Please bear in mind the guests were in their seventies, eighties and some older. Folk did not immediately get up and dance.

Then the mayor and his wife left the top table, took to the dance floor and WOW did the party get started.

How many towns and cities have a mayor and mayoress who would have done that ?

Worthies ?

You bet they are.

I came to live in the New City of Milton Keynes when it was a new city and little more than an idea on a piece of paper, that was way back in 1971. The college I was to attend insisted I change my GP to the college's Doctor Jarvis.  I did not want to do that but had no choice. 1971 to 2017, hang on while I get my fingers working......., that was 47 years ago.

Here is Doctor Jarvis at last night's party. When Rebekah died six weeks ago this lovely, lovely man wrote my wife and I a beautiful letter. We talked about those college days and he shared his memories of Rebekah.


Sitting next to Doctor Jarvis is local council member Gladstone. He has quietly served our community for years and years. Another British Worthy.

The catering last night was done by Lydia. Please do not ask me to say her second name, I could not possibly pronounce it let alone write it down.  I have known Lydia for a few years and have never seen her not smiling.  I pointed her out to our MP sitting on the top table and challenged him to see her during the evening without that smile.

No, Lydia was not born in Britain, I believe she originates from somewhere in Africa but for my money she is a true British worthy who every day contributes so much to the happiness of our society. Lydia your apple pie was delicious and thank you for sending me home with some for my tea today.

Here's another British Worthy, DJ for the evening and my next door neighbour - Graham.  What fun he and I had listening to music from my youth and his challenging me to remember the titles and singers.  Graham shares my love of music.

Prior to the party I had been to McDonald's with our member of parliament so I could praise our National Health Service and thank him for all it had done for my wonderful Rebekah over more than three decades. Eighty percent of our time was spent with me banging on and on about the NHS. Ten percent was me talking about Ronald McDonald and his fifteen houses up and down the country caring for families with children sick in hospital,

Here's Iain popping some coins in Ronald's spinner. Is Iain a British Worthy ?  Of course he is !

How about Ronald McDonald ?  

But he is American isn't he ?  Don't be silly Ronald McDonald does not exist. No, perhaps not as a person but he exists in the form of all the people who make the work of Ronald McDonald House Charities possible.

The Mayoress asked me about Ronald McDonald and I explained how my family wanted to support the work of Ronald McDonald House Charities. I said how everyone had their own particular reason for supporting their chosen charity. She replied saying something very important and fundamental. She explained it does not matter which charity an individual person supports
providing they support something.

I then said to her, to her husband the Mayor and to MP Iain, if we lived in a perfect world where everything was there and nobody needed to ask or want for anything would that not be Utopia ? Yes, it would but it would also be Hell On Earth.  Nothing to strive for, no ambition, everything given and everything easy. Think about that.

What about the other 10% of my time at McDonald's ?

Let me leave last night's party for a moment and go back to Iain and I visiting McDonalds before we sat down to Lydia's meal.

I got to McDonald's early so I could find somewhere for us both to sit.  I had my usual large diet Coke and was glancing out of he window looking for Iain.

A member of McDonald's staff came up to me and asked if I was OK. We then had a lovely conversation, chatting about all kinds of things as she made me welcome and went the extra mile speaking to me not as a customer but as a friend who was dropping in for a meal. Yes, I was a bit nervous about the meeting that was about to happen, I had to say the right words and honour our National Health Service to one who is part of our nation's government.  I had a weight of responsibility. That dear lady and member of McDonald's staff prepared me far more than the printed notes I had with me. A British Worthy ?  ABSOLUTELY !

Out of the corner of my eye I could see working at the back of McDonald's kitchen Gianis.  I first met this young and and McDonald's employee back in March.  Have you seen my Silly Old Man Films production Jake Goes To McDonald's ?  Gianis was the inspiration for this:

I have only spoken to Gianis from the car window while he has been inside McDonald's drive through.  I asked if I could have a few moments with this McDonald King of Customer Service. Then I decided I would introduce him to our MP and tell the story of Jake and his love of McDonald's.  When it was time for his break Gianis came out to say Hello.  I presented him to Iain as somebody a bit special who on more than one occasion had brightened my day. 

I said to Gianis: Forgive me asking but you are not English are you ?

No, I am from Greece, from Athens.

Just like Lydia he is not a native of the country which he has made his home but for my money he is a True British Worthy.

It was half past eleven when I finally got to bed last night. I was up and at the laptop by three. My head was buzzing all night long. Buzzing with memories of a fantastic day. A day that included praising our incredible National Health Service to a member of parliament, being able to tell him about Ronald McDonald and his support for families with children sick in hospital, a day where I was only supposed to be the fly-on-the- wall photographer but instead I was part of a lovely celebration of the community in which I live, a day when I was able to shake the hand of my college doctor from 1971 and tell him I was proud he went on to become my family's GP.

But more than this, far more thank this it was day which surrounded me with so many TRUE BRITISH WORTHIES.

I think I had better give National Trust's Stowe Gardens a call, they are going to have to find a large area within their many hundreds of acres to erect a new Temple Of The Worthies. This new temple of celebration has to include all those people who were at last night's party and all the True British Worthies I met during the day.

Finally, let me leave you with two anecdotes from my day.

I suggested to Iain that he should present a Bill to Parliament calling for us to Brexit the Eurovision Song Contest.

Then I warned His Worship The Mayor that his dancing would soon be on YouTube.

Was I joking ?  In both cases was this old man just being silly ?

You will have to wait and see won't you !

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