Spring 2010 #6
For starters, he’s not blue at all. It’s a white person on a Royal Blue background.
The ubiquitous if incorrectly named Little Blue Man is a friend indeed, and unless you have need of his services you may not fully realise his prevalence. It’s like buying a car: once you settle on a particular model they suddenly seem to be everywhere! There are thousands upon thousands of Little Blue Men; in fact I suspect he might actually be the mythical ‘Common Man’, simply because there are so many of him. He is nigh-on omnipresent; and every Little Blue Man is a gift. They are personal invitations, carefully placed by anonymous civil servants with me in mind. They beckon welcomingly, trail markers on my journey. While the greater horde of (unwashed) pedestrian humanity contends with crowded steps and busy footpaths; I have a VIP pass to priority parking and purpose-built ramps. I have been lifted from the nameless throng; appointed to a path of privilege. An un-numbered host of beacons confidently declare their message: “Roderick Allen! Welcome! We have been awaiting your arrival, we are here to serve!”
As an apprentice carpenter I was regaled with tales from ageing Public Service tradesmen about extraordinary behind-the-scenes preparations for the visit of Queen Elizabeth in the early 70’s. Touring Australia to open the Sydney Opera House, the Majestic Itinerary was extensive. Public buildings were renovated, so the old chippies claimed, in the most exclusive manner. Only the corridors down which the Imperial Feet were scheduled to walk needed painting; and on each such corridor one single loo was completely refurbished in readiness for the Royal Flush. While my crowd-drawing capacity may not quite rival Her Majesty’s personal magnetism, I still I know exactly how she felt. Everywhere I go I am spoiled with the best of everything. I enjoy reserved seating on every bus; neat little private lifts on train stations; and (best of all!) my own private washrooms across the nation which are invariably clean, spacious and elegantly appointed. As a member of the Royal Family, the path marked out for me by Little Blue Men attracts an entirely elevated level of courtesy and cheerfulness from each person I meet. Nothing is a problem; everyone – civil servant and commoner alike – stands ready to help with a generous smile.
But it wasn’t always so. This innocuous blue and white cameo once intimidated me in a way that nothing has since great big enormous high school kids scared the freckles of my primary school face. When we moved house just over a year ago an Occupational Therapist provided us with a list of features to look for. Things like wide corridors, no steps, good doorways, and other details that were essentially about wheelchair access. But I had no wheelchair, and I wouldn’t for the next six months. In those days I was deeply troubled by the Little Blue Man. I turned involuntarily away when he came into my field of vision, and the idea that I might one day need his company was fearful and bewildering.
Isn’t it true that the thing from which we cower will often make us rich; and that which we covet sometimes disappoints? This transformation from fear to favour is something I have noticed now and then through the years; and have finally begun to comprehend. Apprehensions prove unfounded, and possessions unrewarding. In the taciturn, convoluted passage of life I see a Grand Design. Many things have not gone the way I might have wished, and yet time and again I have stood back to marvel at the outcome. St Paul put it this way: “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose”. I believe that implicitly; and yet I’ve often found it the core of my unbelief.
The Little Blue Man makes a colourful tale, but it’s flawed. For one thing it’s a singularly self-centred story. As any adult must learn the fruitfulness of life is not concerned simply with me; it’s about us: my family, friends, community, church. The ups and downs of my life are part of a far bigger picture and the “good” that St Paul speaks about is often seen only from a higher vantage point. My story also lacks candour; after all I don’t regard my dependence on Bugger (et al) as the best thing in the world that could have happened. But I do think that the human ability to know what’s best could well be the most overstated thing in the world.
The Little Blue Man has one more lesson to teach. He is ahead of me on the road; he’s waiting down the track. I don’t know when I will find him next, but I’m pretty sure he will be there when I need him. And that’s good news, because tomorrow I am catching a train!