Who cares?

Image result for images old cottages in uk

While other squires were out raping maidens and oppressing the poor, or so legend has it, John Scrimgeour, the lord of the manor who lived at Stedham Hall, occupied himself instead with spreading cheer and happiness in the village he owned.

At the end of Queen Victoria’s reign, he was busy putting in the village’s water supply and installed a bathhouse and a reading room for his tenants. He gave the villagers an eight-acre playing field, and he built three-bedroom houses for newlyweds.

And when he built the houses for his parlour maids, he realised they were sited alongside the road facing east, which is one of the coldest angles in a climate like England. So he ordered them to be built end-on to the road, so they faced south. Back-to-front houses, with day-long sunshine.

When I read the story of John Scrimgeour and his community, I felt a warm glow. But I didn’t feel a warm glow when I saw a picture of the latest super-yacht with its helipad, swimming pool, guest bed-rooms for twelve – and so on – you’ll be familiar with these sort of stories which go right back to Aristotle Onassis and his Impressionists and Old Masters dotted around the walls of his yacht… they weren’t called super-yachts back then… perhaps because they weren’t.

I happen to know a chef on one of these floating palaces, and his stories shock me … not just the lengths he has to go to satisfy the outlandish whims of his employers and their guests, but the outrageous demands made on him too – dragged out of bed at three a.m. to rustle up bacon and eggs for a guest who can’t sleep; having to put up with the rudeness and lack of courtesy of spoiled children who complain to their autocratic parents if the staff don’t comply with their childish tantrums and demands; meals with half a dozen starters, entrees, main course, pudding and bonne bouches…

My friend is continually head-hunted from yacht to yacht by owners who want to enjoy his expertise, so he has seen a number of these billionaire establishments, and they are all similar, with no expense spared for personal trivial self-indulgences by these newly rich billionaires.

When I saw the picture of the latest and biggest super-yacht, my thoughts went back to a young man I saw in photos at his father’s funeral. I had already been struck by the sensitivity and goodness as well as his good looks in photos of him as godfather to Princess Charlotte of Cambridge. On the death of his father a few months ago, this twenty-six year old young man became Duke of Westminster. Not only is he now one of the richest men in England, but he inherits a dukedom with an astonishing reputation for philanthropy over several generations.

In one impoverished area of Scotland bought by a previous Duke, he and his agent planted thousands of trees, bought a redundant fishing business, developed the harbour and established transport which created a new community, so the Duke also built a school, and gave it to the local council. There was little, if any gain to the Duke from this enterprise, which was, and still is, typical of the activities of this rich family.

In another example the Duke bought Annacis Island in Canada and developed it, providing employment for thousands. The Dukes have given land in London to the Westminster City Council so work people could be housed near their place of work, and in the Depression they gave back fifty per cent of their rents to their tenants. Over the last seventy years this family have developed many schemes with no thought of gain – one of the most touching examples of their noblesse oblige being their generosity  to Norman Tebbitt after the Brighton bombing by the IRA in 1984….

Five members of Margaret Thatcher’s government were killed, while Tebbitt has limped ever since from his injuries, and his wife was permanently paralysed and has lived in a wheelchair ever since. The 6th Duke gave the Tebbitts a beautiful house near Parliament at a peppercorn rent (an old English term meaning literally a peppercorn) so Tebbitt could continue his ministerial duties, as well as care for his wife, and this generosity has continued ever since.

This 6th Duke has always repudiated the word philanthropy for his activities and simply calls it ‘caring’. Now his young son has taken over this mantle of caring while his three sisters are all involved in careers which involve service to others and ’caring’. The family, whose surname is Grosvenor, has an unbroken pedigree stretching back to 1066, when Gilbert le Gros Veneur landed in England with William the Conqueror.

The present descendant is the inheritor of a thousand years of both riches and responsibility. How long will it take the billionaires floating around the world, to develop that same sense of caring? At this moment eight billionaires own fifty percent of the world’s riches. Some of them, like Bill and Melissa Gates, and Warren Buffet are indeed the inheritors of aristocratic generosity and responsibility, but many others seem more intent on safeguarding their gains and living as though there were no tomorrows.

Unlike so many of the rich men of previous eras, these are men whose very businesses have nothing to plough back into the world. In previous ages, rich English landowners cared for the land, for this was where their riches came from; rich men endowed schools and art galleries, universities and homes for the poor. They  supported artists, collected art, built architectural gems to live in, planted beautiful parks and gardens, and as early as seventeen hundred were opening them and sharing them with the public, just as they do now. Altruism was common when Christianity united communities.

Today, generosity seems to be a characteristic of the internet instead, when the generosity of people with little to give when compared to the rich, becomes a groundswell of many small contributions to help individual cases of need. But the grand gifts, those that last for generations or change whole communities, as in the case of the English benefactors I’ve mentioned, don’t seem to be so common among today’s Russian oligarchs, internet moguls or mega- rich pop stars.

There are of course, many film stars and other celebrities who do ‘care’ and who work for caring organisations and green causes,  and it’s up to the rest of us to ‘care’ too, in the words of the Duke of Westminster. We CAN take responsibility, and though we think our voice or our efforts can’t make the difference we long for, this is not true.

I do believe the inspiring words of writer, Dean Koontz, who has given over two and a half million dollars to charity: “Each smallest act of kindness reverberates across great distances and spans of time, affecting lives unknown to the one whose generous spirit was the source of this good echo, because kindness is passed on and grows each time it’s passed, until a simple courtesy becomes an act of selfless courage years later and far away … Likewise, each small meanness, each expression of hatred, each act of evil.”

Few of us are capable of acts of evil, but it is easy to fall into the trap of hating oppressors like Assad and others. But this doesn’t help the world, while these reminders do. They sound like the perfect blueprint for the good life, be we billionaire or happy blogger!

Food for Threadbare Gourmets

After several episodes of global warming , or once- in-a – fifty-year storms, or Cyclone Debbie flooding, (however the weather forecasters explain it) in which we were cut off by landslips on one road, and flooding on the other, I’m planning a sort of mini-hoard for the next once -in- a -fifty year storm, whatever ‘they’ call it  – iron rations, emergency rations, whatever we choose to call them.

I searched my soul and found that there are several things I depend on… always plenty of cheese, some bacon and some Parmesan cheese in the fridge … plenty of olive oil, pasta, tins of tomatoes, and maybe minced beef in the deep freeze. With these staples, we can have spaghetti Bolognaise, lasagne, and when really up against it, pasta with butter and parmesan, or pasta with an egg, cream and Parmesan whisked together, and stirred immediately into the hot spaghetti. Simple, but one of my favourites … especially with crisp chopped bacon sprinkled on top. And there’s nothing like grilled cheese on toast when the cupboard is bare.

Food for thought

We can’t help everyone, but we can all help someone.    Ronald Reagan

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23 Comments

Filed under bloggers, cookery/recipes, culture, environment, great days, happiness, history, kindness intelligence, life/style, The Sound of Water, Thoughts on writing and life, uncategorised, Uncategorized

23 responses to “Who cares?

  1. Nice to read about some people being kind and caring. I think that if people like this, whatever their income/political party/etc., got lots of press, it might encourage others to act in the same way. Often people who don’t have much are more generous proportionately than those with much. It’s yet another area in which each of us can strive to be better and all these small ways, when added together, will make a big difference.

    janet

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hah. Yes and no on this one Valerie.

    Yes, generosity is a great trait: the examples you give magnificent.

    I have no doubt some of the new-rich are total swine: I wouldn’t work for them.

    But, I also love the fact these magnificent creations sail this Earth 🙂

    [Terminated four wasp nests today. That’s my bit for community.]

    Liked by 1 person

    • Valerie, you may initially wonder why I’m linking a review of a Parisian restaurant. Well, it’s for your entertainment, it’s joyous, and on topic with this post (somehow) 🙂

      Jay Rayner reviews Le Cinq, Paris:

      https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2017/apr/09/le-cinq-paris-restaurant-review-jay-rayner

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    • Wasps nests – you should have a medal or at a least wear a sash, saying
      ‘Four today,’ and let others guess what four!

      I laughed out loud, and read the juicy bits aloud over the Guardian review to my love… yes, yes, yes, that was precisely the sort of food I had in mind – I even had the photos like that from the chef I was mentioning, but didn’t use them on the off chance he could be identified.
      That chap at E Bulli should be eliminated in some way for inventing things like liquid beetroot – also In my friend’s photos – as well as avocado ice-cream, and other foods aerated, macerated, bullied, tortured and robbed of their soul …loved the differences between the real pics, and the PR pics…

      Liked by 1 person

  3. If everyone strove to be kind, the world would be a sweet place. I love that ending quote (and the stirring into hot pasta recipe!), and I think it’s what I keep at the forefront of my mind most days. Not just for myself, but when my kids (and others) are feeling low, I encourage them to do something for someone else and it usually pulls them out of it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Lovely to hear from you Luanne.. you’re right, we could change the world with kindness.
      I used to ask my children ‘was that kind, darling?” rather than tell them off for something…
      Glad you understand about the pasta !!!!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. A nice reminder Valerie that we are all responsible for all others. The wellness and happiness of the World lies with each of us.
    xxx Massive Hugs xxx

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Glad to hear you have come through the rough weather okay. Carnegie was a philanthropist who had a direct impact on my life via a library. How lovely it would be if those who could did give more; not just give but care.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you Amanda, I gather the storm was not too bad down your way…
      I know what you mean about the giving, and in my experience while some rich people are generous, many more clutch their riches to themselves….
      alas… what could we do, if we won lotto… there would be a lot of suddenly rich animal charities if I did !!!!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Thank you for sharing this story about the Duke of Westminster and his family, Valerie. My sweet husband dreams of being able to effect good on this scale. After years of listening to his fretting about our inability to be philanthropists of this magnitude, I made him a philanthropist on a much more modest scale: we give a small amount every month to a few causes dear to our hearts. While we individually may not be able to effect good on a large scale, we can, indeed, join with other like-minded individuals and become part of a grand expression of Oneness. 😉 xoxo

    Liked by 1 person

    • You’re right Margarita, this is the only way most of us can cope with our need to give as well as stay financially healthy!… and there are so many ways in whiuch we can help without money… I have a pile of sheepskins and warm rugs to take to the cat shelter near us… and I heard of a lovely soul going to a cat shelter and reading to the cats… they loved the attention and the sound of her voice !

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Kindness is just a huge word, both in action and in deed. So often we forget. Your post was just lovely! As always your warmth, love and care for others reaches across the internet to give all us hope and a huge hug!
    Love YOU!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Oh, Valerie – every act of compassion gives beauty and lasting benefits. Here is a Canadian Story: Tommy Douglas was voted the Greatest Canadian several years back. He was the one who brought in our medical system that we all benefit from today. But the story started with a a doctor who saved Tommy Douglas’s leg. Here is an except from Wikipedia “Tommy Clement Douglas was born in 1904 in Camelon, Falkirk, Scotland, the son of Annie (née Clement) and Thomas Douglas, an iron moulder who fought in the Boer War.[1] In 1910, his family immigrated to Canada, where they settled in Winnipeg.[2] Shortly before he left Scotland, Douglas fell and injured his right knee. Osteomyelitis set in and he underwent a number of operations in Scotland in an attempt to cure the condition. Later in Winnipeg, however, the osteomyelitis flared up again, and Douglas was sent to hospital. Doctors there told his parents his leg would have to be amputated. Fortunately, a well-known orthopedic surgeon took an interest in his case and agreed to treat the boy for free if his parents would allow medical students to observe. After several operations, Douglas’s leg was saved. This experience convinced him that health care should be free to all. Many years later, Douglas told an interviewer: “I felt that no boy should have to depend either for his leg or his life upon the ability of his parents to raise enough money to bring a first-class surgeon to his bedside.” And so Canadians have our excellent health care system because of doctor that very few remember. One act of kindness multiplies exponentially. Always a joy to story by for a visit. Hugs and love!

    Liked by 2 people

  9. What a wonderful story Rebecca, thank you… hope my message on your blog actually arrived this time… very disheartening when a long, well-crafted – one hopes- piece of prose disappears into the ether and a beloved friend doesn’t receive her just deserts and the appreciation she deserves !!!!

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  10. Dear Valerie,

    As always, I’ve learned about something and someone I didn’t know. Such a legacy in the Duke of Westminster’s family. I hope he will carry on family tradition.
    I’ve been fortunate in my lifetime to experience great kindness…not from billionaires, but from wonderful people of modest means who will forever hold a place in my heart. I hope in some way I’ve paid it forward.
    Your lovely articles help keep this blogger happy.

    Shalom,

    Rochelle

    Like

  11. I always say, kindness and gratitude go hand-in-hand. It is such a simple concept yet so many of us miss it too often.

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  12. Dear Val,
    I hope all is well with you.. apologies for not replying earlier, we have had three weeks of “once in fifty years” storms, and each time we survived one the next tempest arrived – the last a cyclone.. floods and slips everywhere a hundred slips and blocked roads in our region which took a big hit…
    So thank you for your comment, I love to see you appear…

    Like

  13. Inspiring, indeed. I don’t know their history in depth, but it is perhaps because of their attitude and actions that they avoided the steady descent into oblivion followed by any number of rich old families under the onslaught of the World Wars and Labour Government.

    Like

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