As a child, my mother instilled the importance of kindness, to myself and my brother. I remember her telling us, that if someone is rude, be kind back to them, as they deserve our help. They deserve kindness the most. We were taught to treat everyone equally, and I like to think that I do.
There are many forms of kindness, the most powerful, being kindness that requires nothing in return. Kindness that doesn’t require a fanfare or rounds of applause. Kindness that goes on, each day, all over the world and keeps the earth’s heart pumping. As the lockdown continued, I was inundated by requests from people asking me to join their charities or help out in some way. I was shocked by the number of people who contacted me – mainly via social media – some pretty aggressively, as if what they were asking me to do was an order, rather than a request. To those I don’t know that contacted me, I offer a tip – If you want to be taken seriously, a private message at Facebook explaining why I “must” do something, or “need” to help, isn’t the way to go.
Since moving to Marbella, I befriended a guy called Jesus. We met one very hot day last year when he was sheltering under a tree from the sweltering afternoon sun. We spoke, and he explained he was living rough. He wouldn’t accept any money, the offer of a beer, or anything at all. Days later, I spotted him again and decided that perhaps he would feel better about things if I just dropped a small bag of groceries with him, and left it at that. So, that’s what I did. I selected some basic stuff – bread, water, cheese and fruit. I also picked up a toothbrush, toothpaste and hand wipes. He stood up and hugged me.
There on a quiet street in Marbella, two strangers became friends, and have remained friends. We catch up during the week and have a coffee. He makes sure I’m okay, and I do the same for him. Of course, lockdown meant we weren’t able to see each other so much. I must say, I missed his wit and his company. I hadn’t seen him in almost a month, and I worried about him. Then, as I was going to the supermarket, I spotted him and returned to surprise him with some goodies. We chatted briefly and promised to catch up properly once we can. My friend took a photo from the car, and I posted it to Facebook, as a simple, gentle reminder to be kind. Some people claimed I was looking for attention, while others told me that they do similar things.
For many years, I was involved with many charities, sitting on committees to organise glamorous balls and parties. As I sat in the weekly meetings for these events, I lost my mind. Sitting around discussing how to make their event the best. Wasting time drinking Martinis, discussing guest-lists. I’m aware these events raise serious money, but they bore me. I’ve attended so many, and each time it’s the same thing, people hoping to be photographed for Tatler, or whatever publication is present. As if a photo in a glossy magazine is their reward for their charitable efforts. As if the photograph is their round of applause. As for me seeking attention, trust me, I’ve never had any problem getting it. Most of the time for the wrong reasons, but attention is something I’ve become used to. I do what I do, simply because it feels right. As for applause, save it for real heroes, like the frontline staff who have battled on through this sad time. They deserve our applause. In fact, they deserve so much more.