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» Random Acts of Kindness

A little old lady in Hammersmith
Late last year, I was supposed to see Seasick Steve at the Hammersmith Apollo...but then some fuckwit with a pneumatic drill punched his way right into a water main, causing the whole affair to be postponed literally half an hour before doors. Having spent a good £20 getting there, I was annoyed. Very annoyed.

In fact I was still in a bad mood a couple of weeks later for the rescheduled date, positively fuming at having to cough up another £20 to get there again. Living in Oxford, I used the Oxford Tube bus service (which is really quite brilliant) to get to Victoria, and from thereon the plan was to get the proper tube to Hammersmith.

It was on the platform that I saw a little old lady (I never did find out her name) struggling with a bag that was clearly too big for her to manage. She had cataracts too, and it was obvious that she could hardly see where she was going. Now, my general impression of London, and especially the tube, is that people tend to exist in their own bubbles, not really communicating with any one outside them; headphones in, kindles out, newspapers up. But the most heartwarming thing happened, and every single individual on that platform bent over backwards to help this little old lady on her way - one spotty ginger metalhead carried her bag onto the train, an Indian man gave up his seat, everybody gave her some extra space and patience to sort herself out. People asked where she was getting out (which also happened to be Hammersmith) and helped her to the door in plenty of time so she wouldn't miss her stop.

And then she started crying. Not great wailing floods, of course, but just quiet drops of gratitude, dabbed at with a tissue, and almost hidden from the helpful passengers. I don't think I've every seen anyone be so thankful for such tiny gestures.

Just before we arrived, she confessed that a week or so ago she had been mugged by some youths, and this was the first time she'd left her house since. She must have been half expecting the same again - instead she got the exact opposite.

Myself and a fellow passenger (who I didn't know until then) decided we'd surreptitiously follow her home to check that she made it to her door safely. She did, but had been so moved by everyone's kindness that she was shaking with tears and could barely get her key in the lock.

People of Hammersmith, I salute you.
(Sun 12th Feb 2012, 14:57, More)

» Racist grandparents

My grandparents hate the polish,
it just never makes things shiny enough.
(Fri 28th Oct 2011, 22:59, More)

» Racist grandparents

I blame the Daily Mail
First post, and thus the standard request for gentleness.

A visit to my Granny's is always a bit of a trial; it's not that we don't love her, it's just that her perspective on the world is influenced heavily by two things - Sky News and the Daily Mail. Alarmingly, these two institutions seem to have enhanced the natural racism that come with old age - she is really, very, very anti-immigration.

Of course, when she starts her standard spiel about immigration and how it is ruining the country, my family and I can never stop laughing. She's an immigrant herself, half-german, half-polish, fleeing here after the second world war, and speaks in the thickest german accent you've ever heard. The irony, sadly is lost on her.
(Fri 28th Oct 2011, 22:54, More)