Given that we have now launched our new issue, Edition 1917: Revolution, I thought I’d wrap up our Heroes and Villains edition by praising some exceptional people I have had the privilege to deal with or watch.
Let’s face it, we all find it far easier to criticise than praise, so here’s to a few unsung heroes, keep up the great work!
The librarian and the larger-than-life teacher
We sometimes forget that one of the most important people in a school is the librarian. Reading for me is essential to get on in life. When you combine that love of books with an exceptionally caring and supportive personality it makes for a very special person. Mrs Disher, take a bow: a truly lovely lady, who really helped our kids settle at their junior school. Just for info, our youngest read 15 books over the summer holidays. Mrs Disher, you should be proud. So here’s to all the other exceptional librarians out there. You may not get the credit you deserve, but you play a truly important role. Thank you!
Everybody understands the importance of education, but usually it’s just a handful of teachers that truly make a difference to our lives. So I’m incredibly thankful to another unsung hero, Mrs Hester. Our youngest found it difficult to settle initially until she joined Mrs Hester’s class. Larger than life, fun, demanding, and highly experienced and talented, she basically kick-started my daughter’s academic career. The turning point was the English Speaking Board, an excellent programme where junior school kids have to present and read to an external adjudicator. Mrs Hester publicly stated that “exceptional” was the only result she expected from her class, the highest mark. As good as her word, our youngest, or Littlefoot as I lovingly call her, achieved the highest grade, and with it the self-belief and confidence that helped her pass the college entrance exam. So hats off to Mrs Hester, and all those other talented teachers out there for whom teaching is a real vocation and not just a job. You may not always feel it, but you are truly appreciated!
Bigfoot and Littlefoot
Ok, being their dad and a bit (ok, a lot) biased, I couldn’t let the moment pass without praising my girls. Firstly, the college my girls are at get the kids to take two GCSEs, English and RE, a year early (great concept by the way.) Therefore, I was incredibly proud to say my eldest, Bigfoot as I call her, got As in both. The most pleasing was her English result. At her junior school, she sadly had the opposite of Mrs Hester and encountered a teacher of English who completely knocked her confidence and love of the subject. But she didn’t give up, worked incredibly hard and with the help of the college teachers got the result her commitment deserved. With Littlefoot, it’s brilliant to see, after a tough start, how committed she is to her education and she’s doing really well. The moral of the story: we all go through tough times, but it’s how we react to them that shows real character. Girls, I’m so proud of you! Top stuff!
Success doesn’t always go to your head
Perhaps not surprisingly, I have a mutual affinity to older, unshaven dudes with long dark hair, that swear too much. So I couldn’t let this post go without mentioning Dave Grohl. Not content with being a member of one of the most influential groups of our time, Nirvana, he then founded another exceptional band, The Foo Fighters. Plus, he killed the old joke that a drummer is someone who hangs out with musicians. Despite a broken leg and still performing gigs, he completely proved the rumours that he is one of the nicest blokes in rock. Here are a few additional examples:
So Dave, I salute you, and also thanks for giving me and my girls, when they were young, one of our best music bonding moments. When my wife wasn’t around (she fortunately is the sensible one in the family), we would play The Pretender at full blast in the car. The girls especially loved it when the song went quiet, then exploded. Happy memories. Also, an exceptional video (link below.) But remember play it loud. Enjoy!
It’d also be remiss of me if I didn’t mention Paul Scholes; one of the most underrated greats in the game of football. Loved by so many of the best players in the world, in typical Scholesy fashion, I thought I’d just feature a couple of quotes that sum him up rather than wax lyrical.
“In the last 15 to 20 years the best central midfielder that I have seen — the most complete — is Scholes. I have spoken with Xabi Alonso about this many times. Scholes is a spectacular player who has everything. He can play the final pass, he can score, he is strong, he never gets knocked off the ball and he doesn’t give possession away. If he had been Spanish then maybe he would have been valued more.” Xavi
Inter Milan president Massimo Moratti: “We tried really hard to sign Paul Scholes, we even gave Man United a blank cheque. We spoke to him, but his reply was short and simple: “If you want me to play for you, you would have to buy this club.” One of a kind, he didn’t even have an agent, so it was hard enough.”
Being a genius, brilliant; being a humble genius, truly exceptional. A hero if ever there was one.
Service above and beyond the call of duty
Finally, to wrap up some heroes that will probably never get the credit they deserve.
I think she was called Maureen… anyway, a lovely Scottish lady who works for Sky and who, after months of problems, finally sorted out my ‘on demand’ issues, which took her a number of days. You can spend millions on products and advertising, but exceptional customer service is simply priceless.
The two builders, whoever you are, that helped our lovely Nettie when she was caught in a rainstorm in Roehampton. Nettie and her partner Jim are a truly amazing, feisty, Scottish couple that are not only incredibly close and loving friends but de facto grandparents to our “wee bairns” as they call them. Nettie, now in her 80s and being the stubborn person that she is, despite not being the most mobile, decided to go for a walk when suddenly the heavens opened. Enter two builders who held a tarpaulin over her head to protect her from the rain. Not only that but they then helped her across the road where a guy in a car stopped and offered her a lift. Gents, thank you for confirming that compassionate and caring human beings do exist.
So on that extremely positive note, Ta Ta, for now