“Ok, Ok, Jesus, were you laughing at me?”
“No, no, not at you.”
“At your clumsiness.”
“When I was trying to fix that f…..that shelf in the garage?”
“‘cause if you were you can just get your a….yourself down there and fix it for me, seeing you’re so smart…”
“Believe me, I’d love to, but I’m not allowed anymore…it can be very frustrating…
“So you can criticise but you can’t help?
“Honest, I wasn’t criticising, and I shouldn’t have called you clumsy. It’s just you don’t know the right way; and if you do know it, watching someone doing it wrong can be like watching a clown at the circus….”
“So now you call me a clown, is that nice?”
“Sorry, sorry, I seem to have mislaid my tact this morning.”
“Apology accepted. I keep forgetting you’re a skilled tradesman. And I’m not, so I don’t know what that’s like….”
“Ah but you are, you are a skilled tradesman with words; and I imagine you must sometimes have smiled at something that was written all wrongly.”
“Like you say, it’s just knowledge of the right way. Often I can see immediately how to sort it.”
“When fishermen used to show me a boat holed beneath the water line, often one of them had nailed a piece of wood or leather over the gap to prevent the water flooding in. But that sort of patching was useless in the long term because the mortise and tenon joints of the planks had been broken, and water would soon find a way in. No, the planks had to be separated and the joint re-made. That was such basic knowledge I didn’t even need to think about it. Often I had to explain this to a fisherman who thought I just spinning out the work to earn more. These were happy years, I miss the work.
“As you say, when you know how to do it well, it’s not just work, it’s an art, yes?”
“Just so. What a pity that there are so few jobs in your society that can become an art. There are some, like the plumbers, sparkies, builders and so on, that come to your house….”
“And farmers, nurses, doctors, care staff, actors, oh there are many, but not enough, and certainly not enough apprenticeships…”
“To be able to do something useful, and to do it well, that’s a blessing, and if the market doesn’t provide enough of these jobs, the market needs to be altered.”
“I don’t think Liz Truss would agree with you…“
“Pity. We’ve been talking about the arts of being useful. Have you thought about the arts of goodness?”
“Not much, but I’m sure you’re going to tell me about them.”
“Stop me if I get boring. Remember I was known as a teacher. There’s a man I know who works voluntarily in a food-bank. He’s efficient, hard-working, and miserable. It’s as if he wants the customers to know lucky they are to have this help. Fortunately, the other men and women who work there are cheerful and friendly as well as charitable, so that the customers are given respect and dignity. Those workers have learned the art of doing good. Similarly, an honest politician…
“Is this a fairy tale – an honest politician!
“Don’t be cynical. Like I was saying, an honest politician will stand for justice but one who has learned the art of goodness, will make justice persuasive.
“If I understand what you’re saying, you want people to do good as naturally as a skilled carpenter mends a broken joint“
“I couldn’t have put it better myself.”