But I couldn't very well have a story about the importance of 'yes' without also sharing a story about the impact of 'No'.
There's two stories in fact - so I'll tell them in 2 blogs.
The first is about an older lady I'll call Mrs Rossi. She was a widow, living alone in an old terraced house. Her late husband had had some connection with coal mining, and as part of the very tiny pension she received she also got a free coal allowance. So that was what she used to heat the house: she had a really neat little coal burning stove, on which she could also keep warm anything she'd cooked such as soup, or a casserole. That was always lit in the room in which she spent most of her days and evenings.
And, in fact, at the point I knew her, having coal fires as her main source of heating wasn't a problem. She could manage to bring in coal in a bucket from the coal bunker outside the back door perfectly well, and she didn't have a problem with cleaning it all out: well, she grumbled a bit but there wasn't a physical difficulty, let's put it that way.
The problem for Mrs Rossi was two-fold. Firstly, this room - her living room - had a very damp main wall and the room needed a new damp proof course. Mrs Rossi didn't have enough money to pay for this herself, but she qualified for a grant from the local council (for those in the know, that rather dates this story!). So far, so good. To remedy the problem, the builders would remove the skirting boards and the plaster on the long damp wall up to a height of 1 metre, replaster it and redecorate. All within the grant - so no cost to Mrs Rossi. Even better. Except.
Except that this meant removing the wallpaper that her late husband had put up - the last room he had decorated before becoming ill and dying. Mrs Rossi was absolutely adamant that the wallpaper wasn't to be touched. But there wasn't a way - at that time, anyway - of doing the work without removing the bottom few feet of the wallpaper. And Mrs Rossi hated the damp with a vengeance and also worried about it - and she regularly rang up all sorts of people (me included) to let everyone know how anxious she was to get it sorted out.
So, with her daughter, we tried to come up with a solution. First - with the builders - we suggested that they very carefully 'drew a line' along the wallpaper so the top part stayed intact, and then the bottom part could be redecorated with a border at the height of a dado rail and then a new wallpaper below that. No, Mrs Rossi said. None of the wallpaper was to be touched.
Next, her daughter managed to track down some more of the same wallpaper - so we suggested the room could be redecorated using the same paper, so it would look the same as before (in fact, it would have been cleaner and brighter - as anyone who lives with coal fires would understand - as the previous paper had been put up some 11 years earlier). No, Mrs Rossi said. None of the existing wallpaper was to be touched.
Then we talked to her about whether - if her husband had lived for longer - he might have redecorated the living room. Yes, she said, he would have done. But he didn't - so he hadn't. So, no, still the wallpaper wasn't to be touched.
So we asked her what her solution would be. Sort out the damp, she said, but leave the wallpaper intact. But the builders - and the grants officer - said that wouldn't work. So, in the end, the solution was that the wallpaper remained. And so did the damp. And Mrs Rossi continued to ring and write to complain about the damp, and her daughter and others continued to have the same circular discussion with her: the damp can be dealt with if some of the wallpaper is removed. No, Mrs Rossi kept on saying. No. No. No.