I saw two films last year that were full of kindness. One was the kindness of a bear, a genuine kindly fellow, who saw no bad in anyone. He reminded me of my first mother-in-law who was always expressing kindness where others might have shown spleen. She once lived on a housing estate in the middle of nowhere and was putting in a small tree in the front of her house when a large boy-man came past, slouching his way forward. As he passed the house she said “Well give us a hand here then.” He stopped, astonished, and then after a moment’s thought got down and helped her do the task.
Later she bullied him into her kitchen and fed him a kind of deathly, but nourishing, mix of egg, bacon, chips, beans and all the toast he wanted, with endless cups of tea. She was in her 70s and the boy was perhaps 18, did badly, very badly, at school, and in life. But soon he was calling in and bringing his other family members, including his much-feared elder brothers and equally feared father.
They could not do enough for the old lady who was blind to their reputation, among police and social workers, teachers and ratepayers, and anyone else who lived on the local estates.
The people we see sleeping on our streets represent the mere tip of the iceberg – let’s not forget them in 2018 https://t.co/IjQDHliUPl
— John Bird (@johnbirdswords) January 2, 2018
Paddington 2 was the film and I could not help thinking as I sat in the cinema about my erstwhile mother-in-law who seemed to believe in the sanctity of every human life. A kind of overwhelming love of people.
She lived through the war and was in the Land Army, a kind of attempt at being fierce and ferocious and warlike about the production of food, putting their back into keeping our island people free of hunger. She was possibly the last jolliest person I ever met, and who seemed to be made for life, with all of its vicissitudes. You spoke to her on the phone and there were no complaints or dread predictions. I imagined that if she met Donald Trump or Kim Jong-un she might have made them one of her all-day breakfasts and talked to them as though they were more human than they thought they were.