"We were up at our allotment last week when another allotment holder, knowing that we needed our old garden shed dismantled and taken away, said that he knew a man who worked in scrap metal who would perform the task for a few pounds. As we had quite a bit of scrap to get rid of, we arranged for the scrap metal dealer to pick it up. When he saw our garden shed, he said that his son wanted a shed that would give him his own space to get away from the pestering of his 6-year-old brother and that he would gladly take down the shed and remove it for no charge, as I'd given him some old scrap metal we also wanted rid of. He performed the work as promised, assisted by his two charming sons, aged 5 and 9 years, and went away as happy as Larry after I persuaded him to take several tenners for his effort. I gave his sons a fiver.
The good Samaritan called Nigel was one of the nicest and politest of workers I'd ever come across. He didn't have the easiest of upbringings, but he displayed a generosity of spirit and wore a permanent smile that gladdened me to be acquainted with. His work was proficient and he even cleaned up after him! He reminded me of my earlier family days as a young dad when I let my children work alongside me in the garden and the home. Such were experiences that neither I nor my children ever forgot.
Recently, there has been much on the television and in the newspapers about the partition of India in 1947 and the part that Gandhi played in this historic event. I have read many books about Mahatma Gandhi, whose simplicity and purity of method and purpose have always fascinated me. His example of the use of 'passive resistance' as the most effective method of bringing about change was to be used by Martin Luther King Jr in establishing civil rights in America during the 1960's.
However, the thing that has always impressed me the most about this great man is the very same thing that I have seen replicated throughout my life by many ordinary people such as my mother and the scrap-metal merchant, Nigel, to name but two. The characteristic I refer to is a generosity that forever places people before profit and an ability to exist on a little while always being prepared to give away part of whatever little one has remaining.
I have always brought up all my children never to be stingy in the distribution of their generosity or the display of their respect and overall manners, and it pleases me enormously to know that they have all grown into adults who know the true value of 'giving.'
Gandhi had no earthly possessions to give of, but what little he had to spare, he gladly gave. Such generosity of spirit breaks me with shame at the smallness of my charity."
William Forde: September 6th, 2017.