Samaritan Muscles

Whenever we go to London, if we choose things to do that only one of us want to go to, the pact is that the other person goes and goes in a good humour even if it is something we are not that fussed about. HOH came with me to Westminster Abbey and remained patient as I wandered captivated among tombs of the great and the good and I went with him to the National Gallery to see some paintings. We went to see an exhibition of the painting collections of famous painters. So we looked at the private collections of people like Joshua Reynolds, Matisse, Freud and a few people I had never heard of but what do I know?

I thought it was fascinating actually. I am no expert but some of these paintings were breathtaking and I am always struck by seeing famous paintings in the flesh – probably because I am a bit shallow. I particularly liked this one by Jacopo Bassano (no idea). It is a painting of the Good Samaritan. If you squint, you can probably see the religious people who ignored the man who fell amongst thieves, sneaking away in the background. What struck me about this was how much the Samaritan is putting in to helping the victim. He is really having to put his back into it. It is not just an inconvenience – it’s a strain. He has bound wounds, brought the donkey over and is heaving the man onto it. Everything taking effort. It’s impressive I think; the way it shows kindness. Kindness is a very muscular sort of phenomenon. No wishy-washy thinking of nice thoughts and not doing anything about it here. Sometimes I find the most pathetic kindnesses difficult – I’m a bit shy of the Big Issue seller or phoning someone who is unwell is a big effort for me. Not because I don’t care – just because I wonder if they will think I am interfering. Sometimes I suppose you just need to roll your sleeves up and get on with it – like this chap here. If you want to make a kindness impact you have to get over yourself a bit.

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