7th June, catching up on good deeds

I’m still here, I have lasted a whole seven days longer than last year! Hoorah!

Good deeds:

3rd June: a gentleman phoned the office looking for a dog walker, unfortunately it’s an area that I don’t cover, so I told him I’d message the lady who does cover that area. She couldn’t cover it, so I then went around every dog walker that I knew to find someone who would be able to do it. Finally found one after an hour of searching. Dog walker gets a new client, dog owner finds an insured and reputable dog walker, Wendy ticks off her good deed for the day.

4th June: Drinking with friends in the pub, and though I would automatically offer my seat to a wheel chair user anyway, I roped in friends and bar staff to move the entire table into a new area, and moved all the chairs out of the way.

5th June: was supposed to be a donation to a specific charity, but I’m waiting for them to get back to me regarding what they need most, so in the mean time I dropped a couple of quid into a homeless person’s hand. It’s not much, but it’s still a good deed and it’s a cup of coffee if nothing else.

6th June: rescued frogs in the garden from the lawn mower by thrashing a stick around the garden first. Three jumped away to safety, so it must have worked.

7th June: A very hot day. I saw a tired honey bee on the patio and gave it a bowl of rejuvenating sugar water.

 

They’ve all been quite little deeds and I’d like to do something a bit bigger tomorrow. Onwards.

In the mean time, a poem: The Barn by the very talented Peter Didsbury.

 

2nd of June, good deed number 2

Today is an easy one, again. Food banks.

Today I decided to put something in the food bank bin at one of my local supermarkets. They are all over, these wheelie bins with the little plastic signs on imploring the shopper to drop something in. I have walked past the one in Morrison’s a hundred times on my way out, and thought ‘I’ll pop something in next time’ having forgotten to buy anything whilst shopping. Occasionally I have been true to my word and hastily thrown in a Pasta and Sauce packet or a tin of beans. Today I actually set out with the express intention of buying something for the food bank. My very local Tesco only seem to have the food bank occasionally, unless I am just being unobservant and not spotting it, so I drove an extra three minutes out of my way to go to Morrison’s. Don’t get me wrong, I was going out to the supermarket anyway, (Banrock Station Marlborough Sauv blanc is on offer at the minute and who am I to argue with that? ) but instead of the hastily thrown in items, I actually spent time thinking about what I would want to eat if I couldn’t afford to eat. I didn’t want to buy a lot as I want to make this a habit  I want to buy something extra every time, as part of my shop. So I hovered around thinking of all the things that are in packets and tins (no perishable items in the food bank collection bins) and ended up buying a tin of nice chilli with potato wedges. If I wasn’t a vegetarian, it might be the sort of thing I reach for in haste to fill a hole between dog walks or if I’m flying out to do a reading, that sort of thing. Afterwards I could have kicked myself because, surely, there are vegetarians that are struggling to afford food bills, and maybe next time that would be a good idea, to put a veggie chilli in too.

There seems to be this awful wall of emotion where food banks are concerned, as if beggars can’t be choosers. I saw a video on social media the other day where a slightly over weight lady was talking about the realities of poverty and how she had needed to use a food bank to feed her family. The comments below were awful, as if being slightly over weight meant she was lazy and greedy and needed to lose weight anyway. It’s what I call the Daily Mail mentality. Similarly there were many, many comments about people who had been poor, had been in poverty and had reduced their food budget accordingly; eaten porridge for a week before pay day or lived on spaghetti hoops or…you get the idea. I’ve been there myself, the last week or two weeks or three weeks (if i’d dared to have a night out instead of budgeting for the food bill) would be spent living on a bag of dried spaghetti, two tins of tomatoes, two teaspoons of sugar and a handful of plastic cheese. The whole thing made six portions, a week’s worth almost, and cost less than 25p per meal. Which was fine, because it was just me and the six foot bullshitter (ex boyfriend) and we were trying to get through a rough patch of no work. We ate once a day, or had sliced white bread and horrifically cheap margarine for the other meals. But the thing is, would you want to feed your children on that, for a week or two weeks? No you bloody well wouldn’t. And besides, circumstance have placed these people in this position, not choice. Who would choose to bear the shame of asking for food? You do if you’re desperate, and parents will do anything in their power to feed their children. And if you cannot afford to buy a week of food, then it is just bloody depressing and horrible. It’s not just about surviving for a few weeks through a rough patch for some people, it’s about surviving full stop, never ending. Their circumstances have changed in a way that has lost them a proper life.

I hate the hate culture surrounding it. lots of people choose not to give to food banks as a way of trying to force the government to do more, to somehow prove by principal that it should really be the austerity keen government that are helping. But here’s the thing, while we’re making a silent protest, people are becoming malnourished, and it really could be any of us. It would only take for my husband to lose his job, for me to have a bad few months with the business and we might well lose the house, the next thing is to lose your possessions because you’re selling them to survive, and then what. You’re left with a choice of eating or heating, or going without food so that your children don’t have to. Well, a tin of bloody chilli that cost me just over a pound because I didn’t want to buy the cheapest of the cheap won’t harm anyone, but it will ensure that someone who needs it is able to eat. Where’s the wrong in that?

I said I wasn’t going to make this political, so I’ll stop there. And I’m not here to judge anyone on their own choices, but I did want to explain why I don’t have a problem with food banks. I DO have a problem with poverty, and I do sign petitions and write to my MP (or try to remember to) about the, to me, avoidable financial hardships that people are placed in.

What I noticed when I dropped my tin in was that the bin was only a quarter full, and in it was the cheapest porridge oats and a few Fray Bentley pies. It made me think, perhaps next time I’ll not put a necessity in, perhaps I’ll put a luxury item in; a jar of chocolate spread or marmelade, a multipack of crisps, something that someone can really ENJOY. And a veggie tin of chilli.

So that’s good deed two done. and now, here is some poetry. A poem by the rather wonderful Les Murray. You can hear the poem read, and read The Tin Wash Dish here, at the Poetry Archive. Enjoy. IMG_7701

We’re Back: 1st June 2016

I failed miserably with the Good Deeds June project last year, but this year I want to have another go.

Here we are June 1st 2016 and ready to get going. To recap:

 

What is a good deed?

A ‘deed’ is something that is done. So, more than a thought, more than a wish or a prayer. Simple enough, a practical thing. But what is the definition of ‘good’? In this sense, ‘good’ is something done altruistically, for the ‘good’ of someone or something else. From which you do not benefit. Doing something for someone, or something, completely altruistically, you get nothing from it. Which is all well and good, but impossible to actually carry out. It’s not completely altruistic, because I want to feel good by doing good.

Of course I want to feel good from doing something for someone else, but I want that good feeling to be from knowing that they feel good. And I want this month to be a journey, I want to meet people, have new experiences, new encounters. I want my life enriched by this. That’s what I want, I guess. Which all sounds quite selfish really.

This isn’t a political project. Nor is it a rekigious project. This is purely about enrichment by doing something for someone else.

Today’s Good deed is a really easy one, I’ve been on a decluttering mission since the beginning of the year, it’s ground to a bit of a stop just lately because  I’m someone who deals with depression,and that has come back with a bit of a face kick of late.  Depression is not something that defines me, I hope, but it does put the breaks on my life quite a lot. I have found that, as well as allowing the depression to move through me and just allowing myself to be depressed rather than fighting it and feeling crap about myself because I can’t ‘get over it’ (you cannot fight it) for me, part of managing it is to have a routine and have things to pin my life on. I have a lot of animals that need care and love, I have a lot of projects because I am a writer, and now I have this. I’m not going to lie, there are some days where I cannot manage to make a cup of tea, it gets that bad, and I am lucky enough to have a loving husband who is capable of dealing with that chronic tiredness and the sleepless nights and all the crap that goes with my depression, alongside the very dark moods, the total emptiness. … blimey, this is turning into a bit of a bleak post. What I actually wanted to say was this: this is my way of dealing with that, things that make me feel like a better person, and help someone else feel good too. Having something outside of anything else in my life, it helps me.

Today’s Good Deed, like I say, is an easy one. And quite cathartic. My husband and I have been through all his drawers and filled not only these three bags full of clothes, some brand new and never worn, but another massive one for another charity. All I have to do is put these three bags in the car and take them to one of the charity shops in Filey, my local town. It’s that simple. Plus I can now get my husbands many, many T-shirts back in his drawers. i’ll be giving the bags to the Salvation Army charity shop. There is a plethora of charity shops in most towns, Filey has quite a few, plus there are the air ambulance bins all over the place. But i am sitting here in my cozy (messy) office and it is pouring down outside, it is unseasonably cold at 9/10 degrees and I am thinking about people that are living on the streets. One of the big things that the Salvation Army do is they offer services and meals to the homeless. Three bags of clothes that are new and nearly new might make £200 ish in that little shop. I haven’t got £200 to give to charity, but I do have a lot of clothes and clutter, all I have to do is drive seven minutes and drop the bags off, and that’s my good deed done for today.

And here, my poem for today, by Felix Dennis, from his Ebury press 2008 collection: Homeless in my Heart and found on the the fabulous Poetry Archive, is Not All Things go Wrong, read by himself in this youtube video:

Not All Things Go Wrong

 

 

11 days to go and a major accidental good deed whilst ruminating on what IS a ‘good deed’?

What is a good deed? 

A ‘deed’ is something that is done. So, more than a thought, more than a wish or a prayer. Simple enough, a practical thing. But what is the definition of ‘good’? In this sense, ‘good’ is something done altruistically, for the ‘good’ of someone or something else. From which you do not benefit. Doing something for someone, or something, completely altruistically, you get nothing from it. Which is all well and good, but impossible to actually carry out. It’s not completely altruistic, because I want to feel good by doing good.

Of course I want to feel good from doing something for someone else, but I want that good feeling to be from knowing that they feel good. And I want this month to be a journey, I want to meet people, have new experiences, new encounters. I want my life enriched by this. That’s what I want, I guess. Which all sounds quite selfish really.

This isn’t a political project. As it happens I didn’t vote for the Tories, I voted Labour and I don’t believe the Conservatives have the concerns that I have, I believe the party stands for something that I do not and, like lots of other people, I worry about greed, I worry about benefit sanctions, public services and kindness to other people, I worry that people will be undervalued by this government. And I felt a bit bleak when they were elected. But I also thought: that’s not me, that’s not representative of me. It made me question myself about what I am actually doing to benefit other people, my fellow members of society. That’s where the idea came from. It’s not about big things, it’s about small things too, it’s about acknowledging goodness, as much as doing good things.

Anyhoo, let me tell you about something that happened today. I was out walking a client’s dog (I run a small business walking dogs, boarding small animals and that sort of thing) and I was already running a bit late (I am generally always running a ‘bit’ late) so was hurrying along. I’d set out in the morning with the intention of ruminating on what makes a good deed a good deed and I always find dog walks good for ruminating. So Oscar the puppy and I were wending our way peacefully down a beautiful country lane and the sun was shining and it was very lovely indeed when I heard behind me the unmistakable sound of something delicate and soft, hitting tarmac, which is notorious for being hard and uncompromising.

It was a lady, lying face down in the road. I had that funny moment where what I was seeing made no sense, that someone should be lying in the road, that someone should be resting in the road face down, and then I realised she’d had some sort of accident. We went to investigate and I asked if she was alright, she’d started to sit up a bit and had her hand over her mouth and nose. She didn’t speak, she just moved her hand away from her face and there was blood all over her face. It was running off her falling in great gobs of deep red onto the hot tarmac. I offered straight away to phone an ambulance, but she didn’t want one, so I ran and knocked on a door opposite and grabbed a towel to give to her and used the lady’s phone to call her husband. I’ll not forget the way he answered the phone, he obviously expected to hear his wife so when I said ‘hello is that *****?’ (those are identity masking asterisks, not sweary asterisks, in case you thought I’d just rung him and called him a dickhead or some such)  there was a huge pause, into which I know a million awful scenarios were pouring. He would come straight away. I knew he would have that cold, sick feeling. I hadn’t had time to talk too much, just to tell him his wife had had an accident. There was another lady and a man there soon enough and I couldn’t stay too long. They stayed with the woman until her husband arrived. He passed me in his car as I was walking on, his face was white, his eyes were looking into the faces of everyone he passed to see if they knew where his wife was. She’d been running, she’d tripped on her shoe lace. It was one of those accidents that anyone could have.

After the adrenaline had died away I realised that that was an example of a good deed: I didn’t have to stop, I could’ve carried on walking I suppose, I got no benefit from helping the lady, so yes, i guess it was completely altruistic. I did have a good feeling afterwards, but I actually don’t know anyone that wouldn’t have stopped to help. I hope I never know anyone that wouldn’t stop to help.

I did another, smaller good deed today. Again, whilst out walking, first thing this morning, I came across a caterpillar curled into a ball in the middle of the road. I took a twig, picked it up and put it on the verge. It was much less dramatic, there was no blood, no husband rushing from work, there was no sudden shock, it was just a tiny, seemingly insignificant act. I didn’t think about the caterpillar again. But I suppose, to the caterpillar, it was the difference between life and death, it would surely not have made it to the other side of the road. Perspective is all.

So two good deeds done already and we are not even anywhere near June, yet. Please do send any poems that you think are uplifting, hopeful, battling, strong, positive, loving, generous, touching, moving…the idea is to represent the best of what makes us, us. In the mean time, here’s a bloody lovely poem by Douglas Dunn, you can even hear him read it, here:

http://www.poetryarchive.org/poem/removal-terry-street

Removal on Terry Street

On a squeaking cart, they push the usual stuff,
A mattress, bed ends, cups, carpets, chairs,
Four paperback westerns. Two whistling youths
In surplus US Army battle-jackets
Remove their sister’s goods. Her husband
Follows, carrying on his shoulders the son
Whose mischief we are glad to see removed,
And pushing, of all things, a lawnmower.
There is no grass in Terry Street. The worms
Come up cracks in concrete yards in moonlight.
That man, I wish him well. I wish him grass.

The Countdown Begins

Twelve Days to Go!

 

Welcome to Good Deed June

 

What’s it all about? It’s about kindness, it’s about solidarity, humanity, it’s about having a voice and using it. It’s about being open, it’s about remembering what makes us, us. I’m aiming to do a good deed every day, it would be great if you did too. It’s about feeling frustrated with the rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer, it’s about being practical, it’s about helping people, it’s about showing appreciation.

There will be poetry. I’m a poet and, for me, poetry is one of the most powerful art forms; it condenses emotion, memory, sensation onto a page and passes it to the reader in one big gulp. It’s about celebration, it’s about commiseration, it’s about empathy, it’s about the power of touch. It’s about the power of words. It’s about…whatever you want it to be about.

If you have an idea for a good deed, have carried out a good deed, if you have a poem that you’d like considered, if you want to say anything at all, email me here: wendycatpratt@yahoo.co.uk. Please put ‘Good Deed June’ in the subject box so that I don’t trash your email in a cold, brutal manner.

The format will be this: 30 days, 30 good deeds hopefully with photographic evidence, 30 poems, 30 celebrations.

Thanks for popping by!

Wendy Pratt