Depends where you're coming from
Wednesday, May 20th
The Rivals viewed from 'our beach' at Dinas Dinlle
The other day we received a letter from the site where our caravan is located on the North Wales coast just beyond Caernarfon. We won't be going there soon, but a reminder of where we might have been sets the imagination going, again. I miss the sea. I was born and bred by the sea at Barry Island long before Gavin and Stacey were thought of.
The one consolation with living in Sheffield is that the hills are within reach. I love the hills, too. Barry has hills, but you can't beat the steep roads like the Côte de Jenkin Road as it was called during the grand départ of the Tour de France. But not everybody likes hills. We met a man walking in the Rivelin Valley, near our home. He commented that he had moved to Sheffield recently and missed the large skies of the fen country in East Anglia where he grew up. I have always thought that to live in such a flat landscape would be a punishment! It just goes to show that it depends where you're coming from.
It isn't just where you were born and bred that affects your perspective. The culture of your neighbourhood also has a bearing, as well as your own family's beliefs, values and attitudes.
I know some girls' grammar schools (that dates me!) where the attitude towards domestic science subjects was that 'cookery is for duffers.' Many parents are guilty of pressurising their children into believing that 'you won't get anywhere without a good education', meaning you need to stay at school, go to university and get at least one degree.
Apart from anything else, that attitude betrays a lack of understanding of all the ways in which we learn and what education means - not to mention what knowledge and skills we value. And isn't that the point? What we value has dramatically shifted because we are suddenly in a place we were not in before. Locked down in a pandemic has changed our perspective. All of a sudden we have come to value the skills and commitment of people who often have very few paper qualifications, no letters after their names and consequently work hard for a basic wage. Carers in care homes and in the community. As well as voluntary carers in families and neighbourhoods.
The ability of these people to do everything from caring compassionately for those they look after, to cleaning floors and toilets, cooking food and feeding elderly and disabled, getting people in and out of bed, all in a day's work - and night's in many cases. Where does that skill and commitment come from? Often where they were brought up. Where they learned the value of loving parents or friends. Where they saw other people working hard physically and tirelessly for next to nothing.
There is so much we learn from everyday life, not just in school and university. Unfortunately,
the current criteria for entry to Britain in the new immigration bill doesn't reflect that change in perspective. Do we really think the only people we want in our country are those who earn at least £25,000 a year? Perhaps, if you were educated at Eton, you might think so. But from where I'm coming from, I'd rather be surrounded by a few grass roots carers who have learned how to love and care as their natural response to my need than by a dozen research academics who might not have a clue how to offer a comforting word or a helping hand.
Mother, Father God,
Remind us to value those things we learned on our mother's knee as much as those we learned from an online course.
Make us more aware of the needs of our neighbours than the need for high speed trains.
Give us a sense of every person's worth as a fellow traveller on life's journey regardless of wealth, status, education, race, beliefs or gender.
Teach us to act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with you,
Rivelin Valley, Sheffield