It’s Cool To Be Kind by @tommyholgate
I never understood the phrase ‘you’ve got to be cruel to be kind’, it seems like one of those cliches spouted off with the intention of alleviating guilt following a a morally bad move.
In the same vein, what is ‘nice guys finish last’ supposed to mean? I would argue that nice guys don’t finish at all. Why would we want to finish being nice? Those ‘nasty guys’ who are hellbent on ‘finishing first’ will find that, upon ‘finishing’, all that awaits them is the realisation that they wish they’d spent more time being nice.
I write this from Tiverton, which is a lovely South West settlement and marks the fact I have nearly arrived into Land’s End on a 1200-mile Sport Relief handbiking jaunt. And I have not experienced one ‘nasty guy’ on this journey. People sometimes excuse selfishness with the phrase ‘you’ve got to look after Number One’. And I agree.
Particularly from a point of awareness of the fact that we are all in fact one, and that by looking after ‘Number One’ you are looking after other people. In turn, they will look after you too.
As I have experienced during the following points of this journey:
In Fort Augustus, my bank card was swallowed by the machine as it was mishapen after days in a corner pocket of my rucksack, strapped to the bike. I had no cash, had been handcycling for 10 hours into 40mph winds, and – like much of the journey – was a mess.
The woman in The Bothy pub made me some free soup, tea, and even offered me a pie.
Then in the car park, a runner – who had passed me the night before by Loch Ness – approached and gave me a map as he’d heard I didn’t have the evening’s route planned. That night I slept on a park bench by a flooded canal after my tent ripped and became soaked by river water after coming untied from my trailer.
The following day – still cashless – and after enduring genuine hypothermia [slowed heart rate, heavy breathing, intense shivering, strangely delirous euphoria] the night before following an evening spent lying on frosty ground with no camping mat, I was keen to get indoors. I rang a local Glencoe BnB but they were full. They did, however, put an email round to all the local establishments to explain my circumstances, and I got a call from the Holly Tree Hotel, and ended up staying in a Loch view suite with balcony for free.
The room was worth hundreds of pounds for the night but they prioritisied the wellbeing of a ‘do-gooding’ individual over business. How often do we hear – or speak – the phrase ‘sorry – it’s just business’. Sometimes I think, ‘where did all the people go?’
A week or so later, and I had bought a red Sport Relief T-shirt, and bag for the back of the bike. This made a massive difference to the treatment I get in the street and roads. One day, in Dudley, I passed a family of four. The father had a Mike Tyson-style tattoo on the side of his face. One may be forgiven for casting a judgement on such an individual, however, we got chatting and he gave me £1.50.
This was on a council estate and – while not a fan of assumptions – it looked like he was not far from home. In that moment, that man with a facial tattoo on a council estate, on his way back from signing on, displayed more kindness than some financially-focussed business driven individuals may exude in a lifetime.
In Bridgwater on a Saturday lunchtime, I stopped to watch Chelsea versus Arsenal in a 12.45 kick-off, on Arsene Wenger’s 1000th game in charge and one of the most crucial games with regards to ‘our’ title challenge [I’m a Gooner when it comes to football]. On the way into town, two cider-drinking chums by the canal [beautifully named Swompy and Boobs, pictured below] chucked me a tenner.
I’d been looking forward to finding a country pub where I could nosh a fine salad and probably enjoy a view over Exmoor National Park with my feet up. In the end I had to stop at a dingy looking pub by a main roundabout opposite Sainsbury’s on the way to Bridgwater town centre.
‘Live Sport, Car Park’ it said on a building-side sign. “Brill, I’ll lock my bike up round the back” I thought.
Turns out the ‘car park’ was just the bit at the front between pub and road. As I locked my bike against a bench, there were 10 blokes aged between 20 and 60 stood outside with pints and fags. In this situation, my defences typically go up as I spent many years being heckled in the street of my home town for having a massive blonde afro.
To cut a long story short, we got chatting and I had five pound coins in my pocket before I’d even made it inside. Which was pretty cool.
I left at half time as Arsenal were 4-0 down, reduced to ten men, and I still had 160 miles to go to get to Land’s End.
But after the last three weeks, and seeing kids spending their childhoods working in quarries on the Sport Relief program the night before, I can honestly say I’ve never cared less about an Arsenal defeat.
There’s stil chance to donate to this cause by visiting my.sportrelief.com/sponsor/tommyholgate
Read the full blog here: tommyhandbike.blogspot.co.uk
Any donation of £5 or more will receive a free download link of the feature length documentary upon completion.
That £5 would immunise a child against malaria or feed three babies for one month.
Not a bad swap.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Tommy Holgate AKA presenter, comedian and columnist for many a national newspaper including The Sun.
Follow Tommy’s adventures at www.tommyhandbike.blogspot.com and on twitter at @TommyHolgate.