RANDOM acts of kindness seem to be taking off across the UK, as young mother Samantha Welch discovered when travelling on the train from Birmingham to Plymouth with her three-year-old toddler, Rylan.
IT technician Sammie, 23, had spent the busy journey giving her son some food and playing with him to keep him entertained, so that he did not disrupt fellow passengers. Later on he fell asleep across the seat next to her – a job well done – but she moved him onto her lap so another passenger could sit down.
So far, so not out-of-the-ordinary, you might think. But one mysterious fellow passenger decided that this was most certainly not an everyday occurrence. In fact, he thought it was so extraordinary that, as he alighted at Bristol, he handed “young single mum Sammie” (“single” appears to be an essential adjective in some newspaper reports of the incident) a note, which read: “Have a drink on me, you are a credit to your generation, polite and teaching the little boy good manners. Man on train at table with glasses and hat.”
He added that he had a daughter her age and hoped she would turn out to be such a good mother. He included £5 with the note.
Ms Welch has described feeling “overwhelmed” by the stranger’s kind gesture, so much so that she has launched a Facebook appeal to track him down, so she can thank him personally.
All of which leads me to the conclusion that, in southern parts of the UK, it is not thought usual for young mothers – especially “single” ones – to play with their small children to keep them happy and well behaved, much less to move them to make room for other full-fare paying adults.
Also, down South, it seems to be deemed strange to receive thanks (although, to be fair, it is a bit strange for men in hats and glasses to hand young women notes and fivers on trains. Maybe it’s a Bristol thing).
Thankfully, in Yorkshire, we don’t find considerate parenting behaviour quite so unusual or strange.
We expect good manners on public transport. We expect parents – even young single mothers – to encourage their children to behave well and to shift them when an adult needs the seat that the little non or half-fare payer is occupying. That’s the deal. That’s normal.
Last week, Samantha took Rylan onto ITV’s daytime show Loose Women and told how much the kindness of the stranger on the train had affected her. Discussing the matter, Coleen Nolan apparently said it was “absolutely fabulous in this day and age”.
Really? Honestly? Much as I hope Samantha finds her admirer, surely it’s a sad state when basic manners cause such astonishment?
n Twitter: @yorkshirefashQ