The trouble you take

The trouble you take

The trouble you take

Commenting on the aftermath of Wednesday’s attack on Westminster Bridge and in the precincts of the British House of Commons, Robert Shrimsley wrote, in the 24 March Financial Times, “it is the trouble you take to think of how to say something that gives it its value”. He was pondering what anyone can say in the face of unpredictable and senseless destruction. His phrase ‘the trouble you take’ is worth thinking about.

Churchill had a great turn of phrase and his quotes about ‘so much owed by so many to so few’ and fighting ‘on the beaches’ still reverberate today as points of rally in the dreadful days of WWII now so nearly forgotten. There are many wonderful crisp, clear expressions of ideas that are fundamental to our way of life. I have made a collection of them because to me they are the music of master craftsmen honing creation with their tools. If you’d like a copy of “Wise words” just ask for it.

You may have had doubts about his policies but Tony Blair also had a way with words. His comment when Princess Diana died was spot-on. “She was the people’s princess” he said. A true description. So many sayings from so many people, I could go on forever. What matters however, as Mr Shrimsley says, is ‘the trouble you take’. I have found three events in my own life that can allow any of us to demonstrate the trouble we take.

At time of celebration, for example Christmas, when it is customary to send a greeting, a card or something similar, I have found that a poor, amateur cobbled-together creation of my own beats all the cards I could buy into a cocked hat. Not a design masterpiece, no threat to Michelangelo’s reputation, the fact that I have sought a picture, added a few words, printed or copied it and bothered to send it demonstrates ‘the trouble I took’ so well that people receive it with enthusiasm far beyond any merits the creation itself may have.

When a child or friend seems to be / sounds as though in trouble I drop what I am doing, get on a plane and fly to them. My promise: No lecture, no questions, three purposes only – food, alcohol and I’ll buy you a computer or other toy. Just arriving on the scene is enough. They always want to talk, of course, but that is not the purpose. ‘Being there’ is.

A good friend / colleague who was production director of our Australian business had a lovely wife, Wyn, whose cancer became terminal. I gave them lunch on the banks of the Hawkesbury one Sunday. We strolled out on the duckboards in the hot sunshine and she told me a lot of her thoughts about dying. It was time of rare privilege and true friendship.

Her husband was devastated, almost inconsolable, when she died two days later. I wrote him a short poem about Wyn. He thanked me saying ‘I hope the day will come when I can read it without crying’. Later he told me it was the nicest tribute he had received.

“These things, so small and yet so huge, are the things worth saying.”

Thank you for reminding us, Robert.