“Did you know this chap?” club veteran Frank asked me the other afternoon. Despite the sunshine, cricket and tennis outside, I felt a little down. A failing hip had led me to retire early from the game.
Frank was holding up an old newspaper cutting. Seeing its author pictured made me smile. The Gazette’s late country writer, Jack Benson, was an old and treasured friend.
“He was writing about my father,” Frank said proudly.
Sure enough, Jack was praising the writing of a retired baker who also loved our coast’s leafy lanes and curious byways.
“He thought dad a natural writer and always encouraged him,” Frank explained, having kept the cherished cutting for many years.
Jack, in fact, mentored still more unlikely authors – inmates at Garth Prison who keenly attended his creative writing classes. A former rural window-cleaner and grocer, Jack was full of humour, humility and a gentle, easy manner which charmed all.
He also encouraged me and, reading his amusing, uplifting words once again, I felt my good spirits return.
Back outside our sports club, I relaxed under blue skies and mature trees, thankful to be among friends in lovely surroundings. Suddenly, it was a wonderful world once more!
It was Jack, too, who had taught me about nature. I learned, for example, our garden blackbird won’t be singing more this year – as July marks the end of their brooding season.
From our home window later that day, we watched the latest of what must be a dozen chicks this summer, bumbling about our garden in fluffy feathers, building up confidence to take flight.
What a joy nature is to observe; how it takes us out of ourselves and inspires.
It’s worth remembering, too, we might all try to show our talents - and make this a brighter world for all
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