One of my wife’s colleagues, we’ll call her Louise, because that’s her name, was at Awards Night at her children’s school back in June. The keynote speaker, Peter, was the former deputy head of that school who had gone on to be a headteacher elsewhere for thirteen years. He retired four years ago.
The speaker started talking about his first day at secondary school, he was the only pupil from his primary school there. Along came another chap, they established they were both the lone pupil from their school and the latter said, ‘well we should pal-up then’. Peter told his audience the chap in question was called Jim Flavin; at this Louise sat bolt upright and started listening more intently.
Peter went on to say how he and Jim had been best friends all through school. In the February after they had finished upper sixth, as it was then called, Jim died after a heart operation. Peter spoke of the welcome he and Jim’s other friends were given by Jim’s grieving family.
Years later, when he was a headteacher, Peter continued, he heard from Jim’s brother Tony (at this Louise was very excited) who thanked him for something, but Peter could not recall what, that he did during the dark days of early 1971.
Well neither can I remember, but the whole point of Peter’s speech was that no matter what you do, however small, it can have a positive or negative effect on someone else.
Having heard the tale I got in touch with the school and Peter and I were put in touch by a mutual acquaintance. We met for lunch in August, the last time we could agree we had actually met was February 1973. Peter very poignantly told me of the last time he saw Jim. He and Peter were in a band together, the night night before he went into hospital Jim went to Peter’s home, he asked that should he not get out of hospital alive would the band sing The Lord is my Shepherd at his funeral. Peter brushed this off but as things turned out they did so.
I told a couple of my friends this story, comments about it becoming a blog post were made. I decided against it. But I did not write off the idea (clearly).
This Wednesday I was at a funeral of a man in his 50s. One of his life long friends gave a very touching eulogy which had echos of my chat with Peter about he and Jim, and the psalm we sung was no less than The Lord is my Shepherd. I began to reconsider.
Arriving home I had a direct message on Twitter from someone I had hardly noticed. This lady told me the person being blamed for an abuse account who takes an interest in me could not be the person responsible. I am informed the ‘suspect’ is delightful and gentle and would not call out when accused but bear the wrong patiently. I have no reason not to believe this.
She tells me also, with one blog I changed her view on a specific situation, and she finished with these words
Which takes us right back to the point of Peter’s keynote speech.