Today’s song is ‘One Fine Day’. This song was written by Gerry Goffin and Carole King. It first became a popular hit in the summer of 1963 for the American girl group, ‘The Chiffons’, who reached the top five on the ’Billboard Hot 100’ chart. In 1980, King covered it herself and it charted at Number 12 on ‘Billboard Hot 100’ with her version. The song has subsequently been covered by numerous artists over the years.
We each have wish lists of future intentions. How many times have we said, ‘One fine day I’ll ……’, half knowing that we are never likely ‘follow through’ with our half-hearted intention. It matters not if it is that unwritten book we have never got around to writing or that old neighbour and friend whose house we pass frequently and swear we will drop in to say ‘hello’ but never do, or that person we once offended and have never yet apologised to but wanted to so many times. Whatever our half-hearted intentions are that we failed to carry out when we could, know this: the day will eventually pass when the opportunity will no longer present itself and it will it no longer remain possible to carry out, even if you experience a change of heart to finally do that you should have done long ago.
I wonder how many people pass through their whole life between birth without once ever having said to a brother, sister, father, mother, son, daughter, or God forbid, even a husband or wife, “I love you”? They may have been non-demonstrative people who were brought up in families who didn’t show their emotions and therefore never learned to openly express theirs or deal with the expressed emotions of others.
In my professional role when I worked as a Probation Officer, I met many people who never learned to express their emotions and it often took me six months of weekly-group contact to successfully coach them to be able to look another group member in the eye, and without laughter or embarrassment say, ‘I love you.’ Once that had been achieved, I then gave the group member a homework task of telling their significant other (parent, sibling, spouse or child) tonight and every night thereafter, and to watch their relationship flourish and thrive in loving embrace.
For almost two years, I was to teach Relaxation Training skills to female prisoners in New Hall Prison in Wakefield. I worked exclusively with a group of women who had been both the victims or/and perpetrators of violence against partners, spouses or children. I have worked with women who murdered their child or who badly ill-treated child/ children physically. These were women who were treated as being the 'lowest of the low' and the 'scum of the earth' by other inmates and most of the prison guards.
I tended to work with women in violent relationships and whose lives had been governed by violent influences and hurtful behaviour. I will never forget when I gave the women the group task of saying ‘I LOVE YOU’ exercise to another female group inmate, I could not get one to comply. Every single woman in the group of fifteen or more women prisoners indicated in turn that their parents had never once told them, ‘I love you’ during their development. Murderers of children some of them might have been, but emotionally immature adults without loving childhoods, all had been. None of them had ever experienced a childhood bordering on ‘normality’; and all of them had unknowingly been thrust into the responsibilities and body of an adult whilst never having matured beyond the emotions of an unhappy child.
In my life I have received many letters and Christmas cards from famous people, including Prime Ministers, an Irish President, Royalty and even International film stars. I have even received personal telephone calls to my home from the late Princess Diane and the late South African President Nelson Mandela. But the letters and Christmas greetings I treasure the most are the ones I received from every female prisoner who was a member of my prison Relaxation Training Group at Newhall Prison, Wakefield during the June-December period of 1989. Their letters indicated that some had told their parents, other family members and their children ‘I love you’ since the prison group I ran for them had concluded. All the letters I received that Christmas time from around fifteen women contained Christmas greetings and gratitude for having bothered to come into the prison and help them to utter those magic words to significant others in their lives and to myself, “‘I love you’, Mr Forde.”
I dedicate my song today to my longstanding Facebook friend, Anne Lister, of Brighouse. Anne has always done so much for the many friends she has and the numerous contacts she knows to be in ill-health or in need of a visit by a cheerful face. She is the warmest of all spirits who grace this earth. Whether it is her gifts of beautiful marmalade or her comfort, cheerfulness and compassion she spreads around the world each time she visits somebody, it turns out to be 'the finest of days' for that lucky person. Every time you visit someone, Anne, as soon as you leave, they want you back again. In order to reflect that effect you have on people, I sing two versions of my song today for you. Just as we all want back the fine days that visit us, so we want you back!
God bless you, Anne, and may we all wish you the happiest of birthdays for this first day of September. I don’t know how old you are, Anne, (and wouldn’t dream of spilling the beans if I did), but can honestly say that when you visited me and Sheila last week and spent an hour up at our allotment in Haworth, you looked ten years younger and many pounds lighter than when we last saw you three months earlier! I can’t say you looked more beautiful than before, as there is only so much beauty a face can reflect, and an admirer can behold. The long and short of it, Anne, is that you’ve got the full package. Continue to be the loving Mary Poppins you are and to make the lives of all who know you and love you ‘A fine day’ every time you pop in and out of their lives. Happy birthday, Bill and Sheila xxx
Love and peace Bill xxx