A kind of magic

random acts of kindness

Just as I was idly thinking about Lent and realising how good I was at bookending it with pancakes at one end and Easter eggs at the other, but how very poor I was about giving up anything in the middle, I came across a lady called Bernadette Russell.

Bernadette is a bit of a modern day Pollyanna who carries out a random act of kindness to strangers every day. She got the idea after feeling, in her words, ‘sadangry’ about the riots that devastated our cities the summer before last, and after stumbling across an alienating and alienated-looking hoody in the Post Office who was a few pence short of a stamp to post his driving licence application. She offered, on impulse, to pay for his stamp, and was so bowled over by his clumsy and effusive thanks that she decided to carry on doing something kind for strangers every day.

Since then she has hidden fivers in books, written thank you notes to midwives, left a gigantic tub of geraniums outside an old people’s home and handed bemused Jehovah’s Witnesses a plate of fondant fancies to make up for all the slammed doors they face.

Do-gooders often get a bad press, especially when, like Bernadette, they blog about it and plan to turn it into a show and a book (she didn’t mention a T-shirt), but I forgive her because she is so self-deprecating and irreverent about it all. She got short shrift at a railway station when she tried and failed to give out Valentine cards – I think people mistook her for someone selling mobile phones – but didn’t let that put her off. And when she stuck a random but encouraging note on a church noticeboard, she blogged, “I hope God doesn’t get the credit for this.”

So as a poster child for selfless acts, I salute her – because without people like her I would not be safe to let out of the house. In one day last week I was reunited with my mobile phone an hour after leaving it in a cafe (thank you to the lady who handed it to reception) and my college pass with memory stick attached (again thank you to whoever handed it in). A few days earlier I dropped my credit card at the supermarket checkout and someone followed me out of the shop to give it back to me. In my own defence, last Saturday I managed to find my purse, which I had shut inside the bonnet of the car, all by myself.

So here’s to Bernadette for changing the world, one random act of kindness at a time. Without her there would be at least 366 grumpier people around.

Have you been the giver or receiver of a random act of kindness? If you tweet, let me know @AmandaAtCandis or put a comment below…

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