Bill Hornets writes…
When I was a small boy – a very small boy – my Mother would bring me from our London home to a small village in the heart of England. It was where my family came from. We’ve been there for 900 years – we came over with The Conqueror.
My country not long before had been fighting a terrible war. We had won, but England was on its knees. We had nothing. Nothing, that is, except rationing and help to come.
The first time I was conscious of Americans was when open lorries rumbled through the village full of soldiers. The soldiers were laughing and bright. My mother held me up to wave.
“Hi kid, catch!” One of them threw an orange ball to me, then came a short yellow stick and a bright package. An orange, a banana and a pack of sweets.
I’d never seen an orange or a banana before.
All the village kids got presents: the old men tobacco and the mothers cigarettes. These soldiers were GI Joes from a nearby base. Farm boys, city boys, suburban boys, “American Boys”. They weren’t told to be generous, they were not under orders. They just did it. And did it with that bright-faced enthusiasm that is American.
I was reminded of this a short while ago when the Wall Street Journal published an article – by Edward Helmore – on me and my shops. The response has been marvellous – not just with orders at Hornets online shop, but with emails, with compliments, good wishes – a rush of interest and enthusiasm that has come across the Atlantic.
That bright-faced enthusiasm that I first saw as a very small boy.
David Tucker, an American friend who owns London Walks has been in London for thirty years. He’s 6”3’ with a big personality full of warmth and humour. He was coming towards our shops. My nephew, an actor, used his actor’s turn of phrase:
“Here comes Dave… he’d have been at the Alamo, he wouldn’t have gone home”.
Indeed he wouldn’t.
I thought of those soldiers, those bright-faced boys, back when I was a very small boy. They had left friends on the battlefields of Europe, who had faced their personal Alamos, and didn’t get home.
Gentlemen you were not boys: you were Men. I thank all of you as I do Americans for that bright-faced enthusiasm and generosity of spirit that is America.