The dust of exploded beliefs may make a fine sunset.
(Geoffrey Madan, writer 1895-1947)
Hoi polloi and hoity-toity …
“Dear Francis Gay:
My husband earns three pounds 15s a week, and the one room we live in is small, and looks into an alley, but he is in regular work, and he keeps sober, and our one daughter is happily married, and we haven’t been short of coal this winter, not yet, anyhow; and we manage to get a nice bit of meat at the weekend, and I make my own bread, and we have good health, which is a lot to be thankful for; and the other evening after we’d been sitting by the fire just talking, and sometimes listening to the wind and the rain outside, my hubby got up and crossed over to me, and bent down and kissed me, just as if we were in our early twenties, and he said, ‘Eh, well, we’re very lucky, us two’, and then he went and sat down again.
And he was right, Mr. Gay.
A Lucky Woman”
The letter above is from the 1948 Friendship Book by Scotsman Francis Gay. More’s the pity, it apparently reflects an era, and its values, long gone. Today the Washington Post’s recent rhyming competition, with some odd rules, reflects a change in values. The rhyming rules were a romantic first line, but the least romantic second line. One result: “Roses are red, violets are blue, sugar is sweet and so are you. But the roses are wilting, the violets are dead, the sugar bowl is empty, and so is your head.”
Yep, there’s a smile in the “roses are red” bit, but it’s pretty shallow stuff, while Lucky Woman’s letter implies some deep value, and emotions behind the hokey scene. The hoity-toity of the day put the label hoi polloi on the Lucky Woman and her husband, calling them hokey, or mawkishly sentimental.
So, using the old sourdough measure, if you’re choosing family foundations, who would you choose to ride the river with, the social and moral values of the hoity-toity of today or the Lucky Woman and her husband’s?
My choice is the hoi-polloi, what’s yours?
During a visit to the mental-health facility, I asked the director what the criterion was which defined whether or not a patient should be institutionalized.
“Well,” said the director, “we fill up a bathtub, then we offer a teaspoon, a teacup and a bucket to the patient and ask him or her to empty the bathtub.”
“Oh, I understand,” I said. “A normal person would use the bucket because it’s bigger than the spoon or the teacup.”
“No,” said the director. “A normal person would pull the plug. Do you want a bed near the window?”
He who gives a kindness should be silent; he who receives a kindness should speak of it …
I sipped a libation a week back — a gift. It came with a card too. It was one of those gestures that make your day — actually a lot of days, a whole lot. Drop a Kokanee on the table, and we’ll remember them all and their thoughtfulness.
The words on the card, addressed to the Yukon News Gang, told us, “I have always wanted to thank you, in some small way, for your excellent paper. For 28 years I have read it cover to cover and I have used your classifieds to find things I thought I needed and sell things I didn’t need … Here are the makings of a small party for young folks and an average one for not so young.”
Well, we’ve received a kindness and want to holler about it; it and the many others it represents throughout the year. Gifts of real home-cooked food, mouth-watering chocolates, cakes, cookies, and real Canadian libations to wash it down.
A skookum thanks to each and every one of you from each and everyone of the Yukon News Gang!
P.S. Just for fun I Googled “the gift of giving,” and realized at the same time that Yukoners have no need to read even one of the 3,550,000 ‘hits’. They already have the gift of giving.