4th February 2022

In 1975 I was travelling from Derbyshire by train to Bristol Parkway. Just me with a two-year old Peter, an awkward folding pushchair and a large suitcase. Unfortunately, I had to change at Birmingham. My parents got us and the luggage on to the train and as it terminated at Birmingham, I could take time getting off. But the onward train was a Newcastle-Plymouth train so I had to be quick getting on. A small child cannot manage the steps of an Intercity train so I carried him on to the train, put him down and tried to return to the platform for the other things I had had to leave there. Three very well-dressed women pushed rudely past us chattering happily. Their carrier bags said they were well-heeled ladies-who-lunch shopping on a day out.

As we approached Parkway it was getting dark and I was worried about getting off. Child first and risk the luggage going to Exeter? Or vice versa? I got myself and all my stuff to the door as we came past Westerleigh Junction and I was joined by a really rough-looking bloke. Had he joined me at a bus-stop at night, I would have been nervous. The train slowed and he just said, “When it stops, you get off with t’babby and I’ll do the rest.” Which he did.

How often do I (we?) fail to do obvious simple acts of kindness? How often do I (we?) judge someone by their appearance and ignore or reject them?

We know the parable of the good Samaritan well enough!

Margaret Clements