A couple of months ago I received a gift through the post from a lovely couple I taught a while back – a signed copy of Simeon Courtie’s The Long and Whining Road; the story of a family of five who busked their way around the world in an old VW Camper Van. I love the book for many reasons; the subject is obviously of huge interest to me at the moment, Courtie’s writing style is hysterical and the stories he tells are inspiring. I won’t ruin it for you, but by way of an example, one encounter he recalls involved running into an Italian family when doing a bit of unauthorised camping in the countryside. The kindness and generosity shown to his family by relative strangers is humbling and left me wondering how would I behave if I ran into a travelling family here in Britain. Would I welcome them into my home for a meal, or even better, a comfortable night’s sleep and then arrange for them to meet people locally who could help in their journey? Unlikely.
Knowing that there are people in the world who do though, people who don’t spend their lives focussing on what could go wrong, all those theoretical risks of interacting with strangers but instead who welcome the opportunity to get to know others even if all you know about them is a shared love of The Beatles, when I think about it, that is inspiring: I’d like to be a bit less cynical and a bit more like them.