In the 80’s my family owned two hotels one after the other in Blackpool, the Park Villa and then The Highfield. There are a lot of stories related to the hotel however there is one encounter that every year since will unexpectedly pop into my head.
As a teenager I was thoroughly miserable. One night a guest – a very old man called into the bar at the Highfield and we got talking. He wanted to know all about my life in the hotel and my studies at the local college. During the conversation he mentioned the weather, which in Blackpool was from August on-wards was pretty atrocious, windy and very wet. I said I cycled to college.
Suddenly the old man said “I have the perfect thing for you”. “What is it?” I said. “A cagoule” he replied. “A what?”, “A Cagoule – it’s like a cape you wear to keep yourself dry and it’s bright yellow so you can be seen by car drivers”. “A – bright – yellow – cape!” I replied incredulously. The old man was very enthusiastic, “When I get home I will pack it up and send it to you”.
My face obviously betrayed that I absolutely did not want the damn thing. Later I told my Dad, “This old guy in the bar is going to send me a bloody yellow cape, to wear when I’m riding my bike in the rain!” My dad was not happy with me, and told me maybe I should think about the kindness being shown and thank the pensioner. Me I just did not see it that way and instead my head filled with utter contempt. A few days later, Dad told me the pensioner was talking to him and saying what a lovely son he had before leaving to go home. I never saw him again – neither did I receive the cagoule.
Then it happened I remembered looking at the old man with that expression of contempt and seeing his benign expression looking back at me. Not receiving the Cagoule I felt that I had really upset him. From that day to this 30 years later without warning that Yellow Cagoule and that man’s face comes back to me.
Now I think that experience contributed in some small way to the kind of person I am today. One who without any expectation of recognition, praise or thanks just helps people because like the old man who inspired me – it’s just the right thing to do.