I had a committee meeting to discuss a potential commission with the Fleet Singers this evening, and walked across the Heath in a Tizer-coloured light which almost took my breath away. Midges were buzzing around under the trees, backlit against the sun like electrically-charged diamonds. The air smelt of straw and blackberries.
I have agreed a sum of £200 from Tesco as an apology for last week's debacle. It's obviously very difficult to put a price on being threatened by a member of staff working for a multi-national company, and the Tesco people are keen to point out that this rather miserly sum is a gesture of good will rather than a compensation payment. I am, therefore, free to pursue the matter with either the media, a lawyer, or the police, should that feel necessary.
In the meantime, in the hope of drawing a line under the matter, I have asked to meet with the manager of the store and the two members of staff who behaved so strangely. I'd like to talk sensibly and honestly about what happened and oddly, try to work out whether the bad treatment I received was actually something to do with the colour of my skin. Gosh, it's a shocking and unfashionable thing to even contemplate isn't it? But racism certainly exists against white people and I wonder if assumptions were made based on my colour, my gender and my accent.
Should this even bother me? If the incident had its roots in racism, was it not simply an example of necessary collateral damage caused by the karma wheel turning? Who knows, really? Maybe meeting the member of staff will give me a sense of what I could have done to make them behave with a little bit more sensitivity towards me! Did they feel goaded, for example?
I think we all need to work a little harder to learn how other people operate, don't we? I think we still make too many assumptions based on the gender, the voice or the colour of the person we're talking to. Surely the key to life is not as simple as "do as you would be done by," but more like "try to understand the way by which others would wish to be done by!" Never judge a book by someone else cover!
I walked home from the committee meeting across Hampstead Heath in the darkest, clearest air. The night was so still that I could hear people whispering on benches many meters away, and so clean that the city lights, miles away, were brighter than I've ever seen.