River Tees in the northeast of England runs through an area of
post-industrial dereliction. Work is going on to reclaim the riverside
for nature and recreation, and now there's a footpath along one
section between the towns of Middlesbrough and Stockton-on-
Tees. One stretch, about a mile long, runs between the river and
an area that was a huge railway marshalling yard, overgrown, with
falling-down bits of building here and there, still waiting to find a
new use. One small brick building is close to the path. One day I
was walking along the path and saw that someone had stencilled a
message onto the brick wall, like graffiti but very neat, all in small
capital letters, all on one line. This was the message:
LIFE IS BEAUTIFUL AND SO ARE YOU
A big grin came onto my face, I felt brilliant!
on I saw the same message, from the same stencil, on a wall
in the University of Teesside, just where a path had a dogleg in it (a
prime site for an advertising poster...). I grinned again, and my day
cheered up, it was as though the sun came out.
I describe this to people, and get to what the message
was (especially if I have it written out, all on one line, in small
capitals), they visibly change, as though their worries have dropped
away, and they usually laugh and look pleased with life.
the anonymous stenciller aiming the message at a particular
person? Putting more good feeling into the entire world? Who
knows, but I hope they keep on doing it.