I know I've told you about this before but I still fondly remember the words of a schoolboy who came to our house to be billeted as part of a school sports exchange some years ago.
When our dog "checked him out" as dogs are wont to do, he said, "All dogs are the same."
To non-dog owners, that might seem trivial and trite but it's a strong statement of truth from one so young and inexperienced in the ways of the world.
In the classic novel, To Kill A Mockingbird, Jem tells his sister Scout that there are four types of people and he describes and gives examples of people within his categories. Scout responds, somewhat naively, of course: "I think there's just one kind of folks. Folks."
If there is indeed only one kind of folks, I say they run a very wide gamut.
• Premium - Wyn Drabble: Don't you hate it when that happens?
• Premium - Wyn Drabble: May I now rest my case?
• Premium - Wyn Drabble: Trying hard to net a decent crop
• Premium - Wyn Drabble: It's not time to party yet
At one end of the gamut are the kind of people who make the kind of utterance I am about to share. This gem was delivered during lockdown and the utterer was being asked (by police, I think) why she had flagrantly broken one of the rules of social separation.
I'm sorry that this will not be verbatim and, for that, I am willing to be thrashed. But I have not forgotten the spirit of it and I know she said something like, "Because most of my friends think level 4 is stupid".
That was her reason for the offence.
People at that end of the spectrum tend to hog the media limelight, but they are, thankfully, far outnumbered by the unpublicised masses at the other end of the spectrum.
Please allow me to offer two different people as examples. The people were different, but the event was the same.
There was I on a provincial city performance platform singing and playing guitar to add to the central city ambience as people emerged to enjoy level 2 "freedom". It was a council-funded gig.
A guy about 19 years of age stepped up onto the stage and deposited a dollar coin on my amplifier. Luckily it was right at the end of a song so I was able to thank him but advise him that I wasn't busking, that this was council-funded.
His response: "But I'd just like to leave it there anyway."
The other example involved a rather frail woman who supported herself on a walking frame, one of those that bear a little padded seat for rest stops.
I had just started the first song of the gig and she stopped in front of me and sat down on her mobile seat. Towards the end of the song I noticed her rummaging in her purse.
She then stood and wheeled her device up the lawn frontage – no easy task for her – and held out a red banknote. Of course, I offered heartfelt thanks as well as the same story about council funding.
She said, "It was just so lovely and I thought, well, I didn't have my cup of coffee today so I could spare this."
Naturally, I again thanked her profusely but refused the offer. She sat on her padded seat for another song before trundling off again to do whatever she had to do. She certainly had left her mark on me, had made the whole day worthwhile.
I hope these two read this and recognise themselves, see that, on the "folks" spectrum, they are a safe distance away from the social distancing offender.
To the schoolboy billet, I say, you were one very perceptive teenager and I agree with you that all dogs are the same.
But folks ain't dogs.
• Wyn Drabble is a teacher of English, a writer, musician and public speaker.