- Holly Searle
- London, United Kingdom
- Holly Searle is a writer who was born in Westminster in the middle of London. She shares her birthday with Jarvis Cocker and David Seaman and like Jarvis Cocker she wears glasses but has nothing whatsoever in common with David Seaman. She is fascinated by words, people and their stories, and regularly spends hours fantasising about being offered a weekly column. She has a degree in Film and Television which she gained from Brunel University in 1997. She has been blessed with two quite remarkable children whom she adores. She enjoys the company of her friends and the circus that is life. Long Walk to Forever by Kurt Vonnegut is her favourite short story. She is the author of the published children's tale The Story of Balan Singh, and is currently working on her first book.
Friday, 12 October 2012
The Kindness of Strangers? By Holly Searle
Many years ago when I couldn't have been more than ten, I set off from my home on my own to attend a birthday party I had been invited to by one of the girls in my class.
I was relatively new at the school and was keen to be assimilated into the social network of my peers. I was late. Being a novice navigator, I proceeded in the right direction and to the address not too far from my own, with the knowledge that this was where the party was being held. So you can imagine my panic when I reached the address I had thought that the party was being held at, only to discover that it wasn't there at all and was in fact being held in another location that I had no installed GPS awareness of.
After being informed by the door answerer to my knock, that the party was elsewhere, I crossed the road and stood alone in a state of distress, wondering where on earth the place I was now on the way to actually was.
At that moment a car pulled up and the lady driving learnt over the passenger seat of her car and asked me if I knew the location of a place she was trying to find.
As I was quite new to the area (and as I was having my own onward journey issues myself) I informed her that I had no knowledge of the place that she was asking about.
She asked me where I was going and being a trusting soul, I told her of my plight. At once she asked me if I wanted a lift as she knew where the place I was trying to find was. Call it intuition if you will, but a klaxon sounded in my mind and I declined her offer straight away. She was quite insistent and asked me if I was sure as she repeated her offer once again. I stuck to my guns and refused. Eventually she drove off and I asked in a local shop for directions and made my own way there. I arrived safe and sound, but a little shaken due to my haste and initial confusion, but more so because of this offer.
Fast forward twelve years and I am sitting at a bus stop in Battersea. I am all polished and dressed up having spent the morning acting as a bod in a photo shoot for a friends brother. I am well versed in the art of both as my mother is a well known model agent and my siblings and I have been the subject of photo shoots and random faces in crowds on film sets for years.
I am dressed smartly, not my usual attire, but as I said, it was a requirement of the favour. I am growing tired of waiting for the bus to arrive as a red convertible sports car approaches with a fit Chelsea type at the wheel. He pulls over and asks me if I would like a lift. I decline. He asks me if I am sure? I affirm my first response and he drives away.
I often wonder if I had accepted either one of those offers how they might have affected my life.
Women, I have concluded, rarely harm children in that way (abet Hindley and West of course). So in all probability, she was just being kind and offering a helping hand to a deluded and somewhat stressed ten year old. I could have accepted her offer and arrived at the party earlier and in a less frantic state of being. But, I chose otherwise.
He, Mr. Sloane, may well have been my knight in shining (sports car) armour.
He may have asked me out on a date and changed my life completely in the process. But then again, Ted Bundy wasn't an unattractive man, but nevertheless one that lured women into a false sense of security and ended their lives in the process.
Both of these incidents have nagged away at me over the years and appear to have resurfaced in my brain in view of the events concerning the unequivocal abuse of power by a celebrity in clear view of a patriarchal institution and society.
Sometimes those that aren't strangers are the ones we should all be aware of.
Most personalable crimes are committed by a person known to the victim. Think of all the horrendous crimes that have been the feature of many a news report during the course of this year alone. Some of most horrific ones were against children, a majority of which had been carried out by an assailant known to the victim of the crime. However, a minority was carried out by strangers.
Strangers are people we do not know until we know them and we should never forget that.
Even if they appear on your television screen every week and do good deeds, this is no guarantee that as an individual they are trustworthy. I do not doubt for one moment, hand on heart, that both as a child and as an adult I made the right decisions in turning down both of those offers. For if I had accepted either, I may be telling you a very different set of stories or I may have not been here to tell you any at all.