Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Patience is a virtue great

... and little girls should learn to wait, as my father used to be very fond of saying. (Other wise words of his included 'a princess always keeps her promises' and 'no one can make a fool of you without your permission'). And I think on the whole he was right, patience is a great virtue and nowhere was this virtue more beautifully demonstrated than at Braunston (oh yes, I'm spinning that out for all it's worth).
With a record number of working boats attending it was almost impossible to see the surface of the water for long stretches, and they had to make their way up and down, passing and turning, for the parades, sometimes waiting for ages to move, sometimes getting bumped and scraped, and yet I never saw anyone looking less than completely calm and cheerful. It was an object lesson in ... well, something.
Another little moralising tale of my father's concerned a friend of his who was entertaining a colleague from abroad, and the colleague professed astonishment at the activity of the British rush hour, and people's desperation to be somewhere else as quickly as possible. 'But what', he apparently asked, 'do they do with all the time they save?'
I suppose, recalling how I was elbowing my way onto the tube this very morning and cursing the minor delays on the Victoria Line, that it's a bit hypocritical to wax so lyrical about the virtue of patience, but on the other hand it makes it all the more special that there is a world in which it really still does seem to come naturally, and to count for something; a world in which we can be virtuous (not only patient, but kind, and helpful) without fear of losing our place in the queue or on the greasy pole.

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