It’s a funny thing, power.
We all seem to think we want it. We all seem to think that those who have it are mean and evil.
Yet we rarely catch ourselves when we abuse it, even though the triviality of our lives is often breathtaking.
Almost all of us have power over someone. Yet often we behave with such simple carelessness. In all its senses.
What would it be like if we had power over hundreds, thousands, even millions of people?
Bugger, I am beginning to sound like Oprah. And this is not the intention at all.
Because I just wanted to tell the story of a little old lady in England.
She booked some rooms in a hotel for a little celebration. The hotel was in Hampshire, a part of England perhaps most famous for being the place many English people go to die. It’s like Florida without the weather. Any weather.
Anyway, the little old lady invited eleven of those closest to her and expected to have as good a time as chillblains and the vagaries of English cuisine will allow.
(You’ve never eaten braised chillblains? I am shocked.)
A couple of weeks ago, she got a phone call from the hotel.
” Ah, madam. We have had a request from someone who wants to take over the whole hotel. Might it be possible for madam to move her date?”
” My date,” replied the old lady, ” is like my bowels after a little too much crumble. Immovable.”
Two days later, she got another phone call from the hotel.
” Ah, madam. Well, the interested party would be prepared to pay for your whole, um, interesting party, if you would simply move it to another date,” said the reverent voice from the front desk.
” I have explained that my movements are going nowhere,” insisted the old lady.
This woman was not to be shifted. She had lived. She had seen many things. And she was not going to be intimidated by some snooty pooh-bah who just happened to want a whole hotel for an evening.
Please now imagine you are that snooty pooh-bah. What would you have done? Perhaps tried to join the two parties together? Or suggested a different location on the same night, all expenses paid, with limousines thrown in?
Well, this snooty pooh-bah is someone who, though a man of massive power, wealth and influence, proved himself still capable of knowing and feeling his audience and therefore knowing and feeling how to use his power for the common good.
He is an example to politicians of every hue and cry.
For, after another two-day hiatus, the hotel called again.
” Ah, madam,” came the polite front-desk tones.
” Yes, what? gruffed the old lady.
” Please excuse us for asking, but does madam have a mortgage?”
And so everyone was happy. The powerful man got his way. And the little old lady’s life was changed in a manner she could never have expected.
I know and feel that you must be wondering who this mammoth of goodwill could possibly be.
No, not Tony Blair. His various mortgages are such vast multiples of his income that they bring a totally new definition to the phrase ‘subprime minister’.
Not Prince Charles. His knowing and feeling are restricted to plants and animals.
The snooty pooh-bah in question is David Beckham.
It’s always worth voting for a man of the people, isn’t it? You never feel the pain.