Spookier than a Hallowe’en Ghoul

28 Oct 2015

nerocardSo today I had to perform a Random Act of Kindness for Psychologies Magazine.

I smugly decided it would be a bookish act of kindness. I’d slip a £5 voucher for my favourite café into a book in the local library. But my favourite café, it turns out, does not do vouchers. Four cafés later, still no voucher, and I’d become pretty irritated. I tried my favourite cookie shop instead but no vouchers there either. Finally I found Café Nero: they do vouchers but only £10 not £5 ones. Gritting my teeth, I bought the £10 voucher. ‘Sometimes, there’s nothing better than sitting in a café with a good book’. I wrote, grimly. I’d decided it was too self-serving to put the voucher into one of my own novels, so I’d planned to put it into The Kindness, by Polly Samson, a brilliant book. But that was out on loan. So were both my novels (I cheered up a bit at that). Then I remembered that it was the poet Sylvia Plath’s birthday yesterday. Her angry poems seemed to suit my mood so I went and found her collection Ariel and opened it – no, I am not kidding – right at her bitter, despairing, furious, double-edged poem Kindness.


Kindness glides about my house.

Dame Kindness, she is so nice!


I slipped my voucher into the page. As an afterthought, I added: ‘Sometimes, kindness can be genuine and uncomplicated’.


I loitered a bit, hoping to see someone find my note, but the poetry section is pretty quiet and nobody went anywhere near Plath. But poetry happens to be next to the history section and as I left I found two books on Victorian women that I need for my current research. I glided out of the library feeling a buoyant peacefulness, a sense of productivity and calm, and a flicker of excitement at the thought that someone, maybe someone betrayed and in despair, would open Plath’s poems and find my gift.