Blog : Posts tagged with 'heroism'

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Heroics. And cheese.

In which we witness a crime


I am not a hero. I had always suspected as much, but now I know it’s true.

I popped round to the corner shop,* just to pick up a few things, and noticed some dodgy-looking men hanging around outside. Nothing surprising there, really. I tried not to pay them any attention. You don’t, do you.

As I was pottering around at the back of the shop one of them comes in. Late 20s but looks older, scraggly beard, dirty jacket. Looks like he should be dragging a dog on a string behind him. Purposefully, he strides to the back of the shop, and starts grabbing packets of cheese off the shelf. Two at a time, stuffing them into a Lidl carrier he’d brought with him. One of his friends followed, jacket over his arm; he plucked something off a shelf and slipped it under his jacket.

Should I do something? Should I say anything? The cheese man eyed me up, as I put a yoghurt in my basket. As he looked sideways, he didn’t stop grabbing cheese and dropping it into his bag.

I did nothing. Nothing at all. “He might have had a knife,” I rationalised to myself. “He might have punched me.” Or he might just have ran. As it was, they walked out of the shop, as quickly as they’d came, with about £20 of cheese in the carrier bag. Is there a market now for black-market dairy produce? Has someone worked out how to get a legal high from mild cheddar? My logical mind says: it was the far corner of the shop, furthest from the tills, furthest from any of the staff and in a straight line to the door. The rest of me says: maybe he just liked a lot of cheese?

* a formerly-Jacksons now-Sainsbury’s, if you’re interested.

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Medals

In which we consider heroism


People often say that the honours system is old-fashioned and out-dated. There are many good reasons to criticise it: the unofficial system of honours-for-cash,* or the automatic medals given to high mandarins of the Civil Service. I don’t even see the point of awarding honours to sportsmen, or celebrities.

Sometimes, though, there are people who do deserve to be recognised. Occasionally, during an ordinary day, some people do something heroic. Even though I only have a very slight link to those events, it’s still painful for me to think about what they had to deal with, and what they saw, heard and smelled.

One thing I know, though, is that many more people than these 20 were deeply involved, and have received nothing. If anything is wrong with the honours system, it’s that there’s always a cut-off point. There’s always a point after which people stop being officially heroes.

* which was a much more serious problem in the 1920s, when the Liberal government even had a price-list for various honours.

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