When I was a small child in Liverpool we had a neighbourhood street sweeper. He happened to be called Alfred but that's not relevant except to demonstrate the weird tricks of memory whereby I can recall a name from 60 years ago and not remember momentarily the name of a friend's daughter whom I've known all 40+ years of her life during a conversation when I was speaking on the phone today.
When I was walking down the road I often chatted to Alfred. One day he imparted some wisdom to me that I've never forgotten.
CJ and I went to a small private Prep School in the area. You need to know that because of what Alfred said.
Alfred said that whilst he was only a street sweeper with little education and I went to a smart school what mattered was who you were and that you strove to do what you did as well as you could. He said that he was satisfied that he was the best street sweeper in Liverpool. And he may well have been.
What struck me later though was his use of the word 'only'. I have never got used to people who say that. I once rang an office and when I asked who was speaking was told that it was 'only' the office junior. I pointed out that most offices can function satisfactorily for a while without senior staff but that most offices seem to collapse if the office junior is not there to find things. Well that's how it used to be anyway. There is no such thing, if one thinks about it, as an only in life. There are just different roles to be played.It's odd what we recall and what shapes our thinking.
As Andy used to say "It's a funny old world, Dad."