It is sometimes said that the smarter the person, the truly sillier their actions. This can possibly be explained by the fact that, because they ‘know’ they are clever, or smart, they have no-one to tell them that they are about to do an entirely silly thing, because, by being themselves so smart, they cannot rely on anyone’s experiences but their own.
As I have maybe mentioned, I did a stint as a Project Engineer at the National Gallery, involved in installing air-conditioning into eight-odd huge rooms of the gallery proper. My work was fairly straightforward, supervising the installation of ductwork, fans, silencers, control systems, but the fascinating part, for me, was viewing not only the works, paintings, sculptures inside, it was also the people I came into contact with in London some thirty-odd years ago. There were always people sleeping rough, in doorways, or beneath rail or road bridges. Their stories? There were probably as many stories as people; but I came across one young couple as I walked in early, crossing Trafalgar Square and moving around the rear of the gallery. There was an hot air exhaust fan outlet next to a gate, and they had been sleeping, on the pavement, in amongst the pigeons, on a bitter cold January morning, wrapped in heavy plastic sheeting and various coats. The youngster was blinking in the early morning light as I stopped, and asked him how long he and his girl had been sleeping rough? He replied, ‘About two months’. I told him to wait until around ten o’clock, and I would be back; and went in to my job site inside the gallery.
Ten a.m. prompt, I came out, and they were still seated next to the railings; I motioned them up, and took them both to a fast-food joint called ‘The Golden Egg’, they probably don’t exist any more: things change fast in London. I bought them two breakfasts each, and talked about nothing, because their stories were none of my business. I left them polishing the plates, and finishing the coffee. I, strangely enough, was struck by the sheer vulnerability and, at the same time, strength, of this couple who weren’t afraid to stick together no matter what. I never saw them again. They might be still together, it is possible that they split; but somehow I doubt it; because theirs was an inner strength there which one doesn’t often see. I bought them breakfast, wished them well, and left their lives to carry on with mine; as it should be, for we must all make our decisions ourselves, plough our own furrows, and let fate decide the rights and wrongs. Why stop and help a couple of strangers? Why indeed!
Which is what the stupid, daft, clowns named Peter and Tracey Wilkinson did not do when they instead did all they could to help homeless Aaron Barley – providing him with food, shelter and even a job after Tracey spotted him begging outside a Tesco supermarket. For their kindness, for their totally unthinking stupidity in offering this unknown beggar both help and a home: Tracey and her son were stabbed to death, and Peter suffered six stab wounds. As I remarked: the smarter the person, the truly sillier their actions.