You should never judge a book by its cover

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I’ve always enjoyed listening to older people and hearing their tales of the war or things they have achieved in life.

So I’m fortunate that my work regularly brings me into contact with the more senior section of our population.

My children will attest to my constant use of clichés and sayings like ‘he who expects nothing is never disappointed’ and ‘never judge a book by the cover’.

Well I would like to recall a time when I did just that. I had been called to a house in Fareham, by an elderly lady suffering from advanced Parkinson’s Disease, to look at a collection of ceramic honey pots.

She lived alone and was having to move to a nursing home as she was no longer able to cope.

Her movements were very slow and her speech was quite slurred and I could see she was becoming increasingly frustrated by the effect of the condition on her ability to communicate. Feeling quite sorry for her, seemingly alone and facing the stressful task of moving house, I was frantically searching for words to stimulate our conversation when, on the wall behind her, I noticed a photograph of a much younger woman at the helm of a small sailing boat.

Not only was she once a keen sailor, she had sailed solo around the British Isles, something most of us could only dream of doing.

Already realising this was a classic case of me initially ‘judging a book by the cover’, I was in for another ‘sweet’ surprise when I turned my attention to her collection of honey pots and asked if a love for honey had been the catalyst for her collection.

‘Not really,’ she replied.

‘I don’t actually like the taste of honey, I Just love bees and have written some authoritative books on the subject.’

She then turned to the bookshelf beside her and pointed to a number of books such as Discovering Bee Keeping and The Bee Book (The History and Natural History of The Honeybee).

I was blown away to see some of Daphne More’s other publications including Country Winemaking and Ideas For Interesting Gardens.

I left the house without her collection of honey pots to sell at auction, though she did give me a signed copy of one of her books. It reminded me of what I try to instill in my children – ‘No bees, no honey, no work, no money.’