It's not the big, famous people at the top who are really inspirational.

It’s the people at the bottom who have an instinctive grasp of how to live life with common decency.

People like bank cleaner Julie Cousins, who walked away from her job with HSBC after her manager gave her a public dressing-down.

And she left a hand-written note, deploring the “aggressive and cruel” way she had been treated.

Julie, 64, who must have cleaned more banks over the last 35 years than her boss has ever worked in, penned these final words to staff: “Please all of you remember in a world when you can be anything, be kind – because you are all no better than the cleaner.”

How much more generous in adversity can you get than that? How much more rooted in the spirit of human kindness?

Julie’s note was posted on social media by her son Joe, where it attracted a huge upsurge of support and good wishes. Inspirational, or what?

As well it might, because she touched a nerve of ­resentment, widely felt among working people mistreated by their bosses.

These business executives remind me of Shakespeare’s description: “Man, proud man, drest in a little brief authority, most ignorant of what he’s most assured.”

Take away their silly titles, their big desks, their fat ­salaries and their ludicrous self-esteem, and they are not even equal to the cleaner.

Her humility shames them.

HSBC has no comment on this affair. You bet they haven’t.


As a lad at Normanton Grammar from 1955 to 1962, I had to wear the school uniform. A dark blue blazer and grey flannel trousers, plus a cap with coloured roundels that I hated. You got a “detosh” if caught in the street not wearing it.

In seven years I only had two jackets, and one was second-hand from an older boy. The NGS cloth badge fell apart.

I recall this story not to plead poverty, but to congratulate Labour MP Mike Amesbury, whose Private Member’s Bill has broken the costly monopoly of uniforms. It will compel schools to consider cheaper high street alternatives to sole-suppliers and encourage second-hand use.

This is a boon for the less well-off. Currently, parents have to spend an average of £337 a year for each child at secondary school.

To be honest, I ripped the badge off so I could go into the Crown under-age. Nobody believed I was 18, I’m sure.


Whoever wins today’s Hartlepool by-election, I doubt they will ever be as famous as the town’s iconic son, Andy Capp. A statue of the Mirror cartoon strip hero stands on the Headland, with a pint in his hand.

Actually, it’s his creator, local boy Reg Smythe, the greatest cartoonist of his generation, who should be commemorated. Possibly with the legend “I knew some day my plinth would come”.


Seven out of ten voters want lying in politics to be made illegal. A brilliant idea, though I can see some practical difficulties, like the choice of Fibfinder-General responsible for prosecutions.

And who would pay the mother and father of all redundancy bills for the current crop of mendacious ministers and MPs? Presumably Bojo would plead innocence on health grounds, being a congenital liar.