Local Hero

Bruce Springsteen
Adapted by Pip Art from an original painting by Simon Mark Smith

Tonight I’m layin’ here
But there’s something in my ear
Sayin’ there’s a little town just beaneath the floodline
Needs a local hero

[Bruce Springsteen, “Local Hero”, 1992]

Many people have a musical hero – mine is Bruce Springsteen who has been my rock god for nearly 40 years – and when Bowie died at the beginning of the year, millions of people grieved as if personally bereaved.

But how many of us can say we have a real life hero? I believe that everyone needs inspirational people in their life and I would like to share one of mine with you, although she would be very embarrassed to be described as a hero…

This woman – let’s call her Q – is in her late sixties and has a grounded yet quirky outlook on life. At times she can be quite subversive and is frequently eccentric.

Q has introduced a raft of little rituals into her daily life. She has an enormous coffee table book crammed with inspirational sayings which she leaves open on her dining room table so that first thing each morning she can turn the page to a new quote for the day. At the other end of the table is a world atlas and when listening to the daily news, she looks up one country that she doesn’t know anything about to check its location. In Q’s kitchen another large books sits open on a book stand, each double page spread devoted to a different colour and once again she turns the page each day to reveal images in that day’s beautiful colour. Q sleeps in the spare room at the weekend to ensure that it feels different from the rest of the week and says that next winter she intends to hang squares of vividly coloured silk on her washing line when it is not in use so that she will have something gorgeous to look out on during the greyest months.

Q spends 10 minutes each morning dancing around her sitting room, the kind of crazy abandoned dancing that is only possible when you are confident that you are unobserved.

Despite being comfortably off, at Christmas Q and her daughters have agreed to limit their gifts to just £10 in value. She says this is very liberating and makes you really focus on giving something that is wanted rather than giving for giving’s sake.

© Pip Art

Believing in everything in moderation, Q enjoys a chunk or two of expensive dark chocolate after dinner each night and allows herself one cup of strong Columbian coffee per day. She is open to all new experiences and her calendar is packed with a wide variety of activities from attending a ukulele concert to a talk by a touring cosmonaut or an exhibition of Ladybird book illustrations.

Q is a compassionate woman. At Christmas and on her birthday she takes the bus into town specifically to exchange cards with a homeless Big Issue seller whom she knows shares her birthday. Yet she only gives as much of herself as she feels comfortable with having mastered a valuable lesson that so many of us have yet to learn – to value herself and protect herself from harmful people and activities.

So who is your hero? Is there a Q in your life? Rebel In A Tutu would love to hear about them…