My dad was a police sergeant during The Blitz.
One day a bomb went off near a school.
Everything was rubble and Dad had to get over there with a couple of constables and cordon the area off.
When Dad got there the air raid was still in progress.
He found there was a little girl trapped down a hole.
She had her arm caught under a beam.
The rubble from the bombed building was weighing it down.
There was one large wall left standing that could collapse at any moment.
Because they couldn’t get the little girl out they called the doctor.
The doctor said he had to get her out as soon as possible, before the wall collapsed and buried her.
But, because they couldn’t get arm out from under the beam, he said the safest thing to do was to amputate.
Leave the trapped arm there in order to save her life.
Dad said he wasn’t having that.
He had a daughter of his own the same age as that little girl.
He didn’t want to see that little girl go through life with only one arm.
The doctor said there was no alternative.
Dad said, what if he hung down the hole and got hold of the beam?
If he could lift it even a fraction, they might be able to pull the little girl out.
They’d save her arm.
The doctor said, what about the air raid?
Just the vibration from any bomb could bring the whole wall down at any time.
Dad said it was worth the risk to save her arm.
So the doctor said okay, he’d give it one go.
But if it didn’t work, he was cutting the arm off.
So dad got a constable to hold his legs, while he hung, head first down the hole.
He got a good grip on the beam.
He shouted “Ready, NOW!”
And he lifted as hard as he could.
The beam moved a fraction of an inch and they wrenched the little girl’s arm out.
It was cut and scratched, but in one piece.
They didn’t have to amputate.
Everyone was pleased, and they all walked away patting each other on the back.
Just after they left a bomb went off in the distance and the wall collapsed.
The doctor was so relieved that he wrote a letter recommending Dad for a medal.
In the event, dad didn’t get a medal.
But the constable at the top of the hole, holding Dad’s legs, got The George Cross.
My dad always thought that was unfair.
But, like he said, people were dying, it didn’t seem worth making a fuss about it at the time.
But he never forgot it.
Last week I was having a drink with a copywriter I really respect.
Someone who’s done a lot of good work.
The conversation turned to something he’d done that he didn’t get credit for.
He showed an idea to a creative director and it was turned down.
Then a year later, an almost identical idea ran.
The creative director won an award with it.
The copywriter can’t forget or forgive that.
He did all the work and someone else got all the credit.
Just like my dad, he’s carried that with him for years.
I know what that feels like.
I’ve felt the same, all of us have.
It feels really unfair, you got screwed and you can’t let go.
You cling onto the hope that one day you’ll get justice.
But inside you know it won’t happen.
It’s gone, it’s in the past.
You’re the only one that cares.
When you tell other people, they can’t understand the intensity of your feeling.
They even start to get a little bored.
You get exactly the opposite effect of what you wanted.
And yet you can’t let go.
That would be like endorsing the injustice.
Or would it?
The injustice is in the past, it’s over.
Concentrating on it takes your attention off the present, certainly off the future.
But it’s an addiction.
Although you know it’s hurting you, you can’t stop.
And it saps your energy.
So that the overall effect on your career is like driving a car with the brakes on.
As Ghandi said, “Revenge is like drinking poison and waiting for your enemy to die.”