Years ago, the entire country was being converted to run on North Sea Gas.

They had to dig up all the old pipes, all over the UK, and lay new ones

In some cases the pipes ran under houses.

Then they had to come in and dig underneath.

I read about one frail old lady who didn’t want to be converted.

She just wanted her house left alone.

British Gas told her it was compulsory.

The main supply pipe ran under her house.

But she just refused.

Her neighbours said she was just a little old dear who’d had a rough time in the past.

She’d lived in that house ever since she was married, many years earlier.

Unfortunately her husband was a violent drunk.

He’d come home every night, after the pub, and beat her up.

All the neighbours knew it was going on.

But in those days wives didn’t complain to the police about their husbands.

They just accepted it quietly.

Then one night, after years of this, her husband left her.

He got drunk at the pub as usual.

Came home, gave her the usual slapping, and walked out.

No one ever saw or heard from him again.

This was a mixed blessing for his wife.

On the one hand it meant the beatings stopped.

On the other hand it was quite shameful for a woman’s husband to leave her.

So everyone was very kind and sympathetic to her.

But all of this cut no ice with British Gas.

They said they’d have to dig under her house, and that was that.

So, as the old lady stood by weeping softly, they lifted up the carpet.

Then they lifted up the lino.

Then they lifted up the floorboards.

And there was a pit with a human skeleton in it.

The skeleton had a crushed skull.

And the little old lady confessed.

One day she’d decided she couldn’t take the beatings anymore.

So every night, when he went to the pub, she rolled back the carpet,

took up the floorboards, and began digging a pit.

Every night she put it all back before he came home.

It took many months of hard work.

Just a few hours every night.

Digging a little bit and disposing of the soil.

But finally she decided the pit was big enough.

So, when he came in blind drunk again, she hit him as hard as she could.

With a cast iron frying pan.

When he went down she hit him again.

And she kept on hitting him until he was dead.

Then she dragged his body to the pit and dropped it in.

Then she put back the floorboards, the lino, and the carpet back on top.

And she told everyone her husband had walked out on her.

And everyone was kind and sympathetic to the poor thing.

Personally, I think what she did was very creative.

Not all creativity happens in a flash.

Sometimes, as with her, it’s more methodical.

She analysed the situation.

The primary problem was her husband’s violence.

The secondary problem was she couldn’t leave, and he wouldn’t leave.

So the brief was defined as:

How could she stop the violence without either of them leaving.

And the brilliantly simple solution was:

He doesn’t have to leave, he just has to appear to leave.

Then she actually made it happen.

And IMHO that was the real creativity,

The dogged determination to do whatever it takes.

That’s where most of us fall down.

We have a good idea but we stop there.

We wait for someone else to make it happen.

If no one does then we give up.

But she didn’t.

That frail, frightened lady did whatever it took

However hard, however long.

Night after night.

Month after month.

And that’s the difference.


Because unless we make it happen it never exists.

It just stays as another good idea that never happened.