Ethos Education

The Lady in the Van: This is my Neighbour

Leave a comment

Assembly Objective:

  • Who is our neighbour? How far should we go to help someone in need? Does it make a difference if the person doesn’t want our help? This assembly explores the biblical story of The Good Samaritan to consider the benefits of choosing to help those who make us feel uncomfortable.

Film:

  • The Lady in the Van (BBC Films, 2015, certificate 12). Click here to buy the DVD online.

Bible:

Supporting Values Education:

  • The value of Individual Liberty affirms each person’s right to self-determination, but the values of Democracy, Respect and Tolerance call us to live as part of a community. This assembly encourages pupils to consider how their individual choices affect the wider community and encourages independent thought.

OPENING ACTIVITY

Rotten Apple (game)

  • Invite six volunteers to come to the front and explain that you are going to play a game called Rotten Apple. To play the game the volunteers must stand in a line facing the audience. When the music starts they have to pass a piece of fruit (or other object) down the line as quickly as they can. When the fruit reaches the bottom of the line, the person on the end must carry it to the top of the line then pass it down again. When the music stops, whoever is left holding the fruit is declared the Rotten Apple and must sit down. When you reach two players, ask them to stand a small distance apart and throw the fruit back and forward to each other.
  • Declare the last person the winner and award them a small prize (perhaps a packet of fruit gums or toffee apple?).
  • Make the point that the game was arbitrary. The winner didn’t show any great skill and the losers were humiliated because they happened to be left holding the fruit. Link to the theme of the assembly by pointing out how often life is arbitrary and people are excluded by virtue of their circumstances or bad fortune.

FILM CLIP

  • Play the clip from The Lady in the Van (BBC Films, 2015, certificate 12).
    • Start time: 00:07:38
    • End time: 00:12:30
    • Clip length: 4 minutes and 52 seconds
  • The film clip starts with Miss Shepherd (Maggie Smith) driving her van down Gloucester Crescent as we hear Alan Bennett (Alex Jennings) meeting his neighbours. They speculate on where Miss Shepherd will park her van next. We then see the van parked outside a family home. She turns down the offer of some pears and complains about the noise of the children playing the recorder. Mr Bennett then encounters Miss Shepherd selling pencils on the street and writing chalk slogans on the pavement. When a passer-by accuses her of being a beggar, she declares that she is not a beggar and that ‘This gentleman is my neighbour.’ She subsequently moves her van further down the street, to the horror of the avaricious couple from the start of the clip. The clip ends with the shout of ‘Stop the cab!’.
  • Please note that there are two incidences of swearing in the clip (‘My God’ and ‘Sodding beggar!’) and that shortly after the end of the clip (00:13:10) a stronger expletive is used so please ensure you stop the clip before this point.

TALK

Download the This is my Neighbour PowerPoint for use with this talk.

Scripted Talk

  • [PowerPoint slide 1]
    • With a straight face, say the following words as though you had just thought them up. Hopefully students should realise fairly quickly that you’re quoting the theme tune to Neighbours.
    • Neighbours. Everybody needs good neighbours. With a little understanding you can find the perfect blend. Neighbours should be there for one another. That’s when good neighbours become good friends.
    • We could probably all sing along to the theme tune to the TV show but how many of us would call our neighbours good friends?
  • [PowerPoint slide 2]
    • Getting on with the people who live in the same street or building can be hard work. We don’t choose who moves in to the house or flat next door to us, and if they’re noisy, anti-social, or just not very nice, arguments can break out that last for years.
  • [PowerPoint slide 3]
    • The film The Lady in the Van is described as a ‘mostly true’ story set in a London street. The playwright Alan Bennett moved into the street in the 1970s and encountered an objectionable old lady known as Miss Shepherd who lived in a van parked in the road. The people who live in the street reacted to Miss Shepherd in a variety of ways, as we’re about to discover in this clip from the film.
    • Play the clip from The Lady in the Van (BBC Films, 2015, certificate 12)
      • Start time: 00:07:38
      • End time: 00:12:30
      • Clip length: 4 minutes and 52 seconds
    • The film clip starts with Miss Shepherd (Maggie Smith) driving her van down Gloucester Crescent as we hear Alan Bennett (Alex Jennings) meeting his neighbours. They speculate on where Miss Shepherd will park her van next. We then see the van parked outside a family home. She turns down the offer of some pears and complains about the noise of the children playing the recorder. Mr Bennett then encounters Miss Shepherd selling pencils on the street and writing chalk slogans on the pavement. When a passer-by accuses her of being a beggar, she declares that she is not a beggar and that ‘This gentleman is my neighbour.’ She subsequently moves her van further down the street, to the horror of the avaricious couple from the start of the clip. The clip ends with the shout of ‘Stop the cab!’.
  • [PowerPoint slide 4]
    • Miss Shepherd is not an easy neighbour to get along with. She probably wouldn’t fit in well to Ramsay Street! As the film progresses she begins using Alan Bennett’s toilet, and eventually he invites her to park her van on his driveway and she lives there for fifteen years. The other people who live in the street are sympathetic towards Alan Bennett but none of them is willing to offer her a space to park.
  • [PowerPoint slide 5]
    • Even in the clip we watched, we saw different reactions to the old lady. The man on the street was aggressive towards her because he thought she was a beggar, the couple were worried about the value of their property, and although the family was willing to help because they felt sorry for her she didn’t want their pity and they didn’t get any thanks for it!
  • [PowerPoint slide 6]
    • The Bible contains a famous story told by Jesus called the Parable of the Good Samaritan. Jesus told the story to answer a question he was asked about how to live a good life. The questioner knew that the Old Testament taught that he should love God and love his neighbour so he asked Jesus to help him work out who his neighbour was. Possibly the man was keen to work out how few people he had to help and still be a good person.
    • Jesus told him a story about a man travelling on a dangerous road who is attacked by bandits, robbed and left for dead. A number of people walk down the road: a priest, a Levite – or temple official – and a Samaritan – an enemy of the man who has been attacked. There’s a twist in the tale when Jesus reveals who stopped and helped the man in the story.
    • Read Luke 10:30-37 (MSG)
  • [PowerPoint slide 7]
    • ‘Jesus answered by telling a story. ‘‘There was once a man travelling from Jerusalem to Jericho. On the way he was attacked by robbers. They took his clothes, beat him up, and went off leaving him half-dead. Luckily, a priest was on his way down the same road, but when he saw him he angled across to the other side. Then a Levite religious man showed up; he also avoided the injured man.
    • The man hearing the story would have expected Jesus to say that the religious people stopped and helped. Perhaps he began to get his hopes up that he didn’t have to help anyone in order to be a good person.
  • [PowerPoint slide 8]
    • A Samaritan travelling the road came on him. When he saw the man’s condition, his heart went out to him. He gave him first aid, disinfecting and bandaging his wounds. Then he lifted him onto his donkey, led him to an inn, and made him comfortable. In the morning he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, ‘‘Take good care of him. If it costs any more, put it on my bill – I’ll pay you on my way back.’’
    • Suddenly Jesus turned the story on its head. The man hearing would not have expected that an enemy like the Samaritan would stop and help. The penny began to drop that he wasn’t going to get off the hook if he wanted to be a good person.
  • [PowerPoint slide 9]
    • ‘‘What do you think? Which of the three became a neighbour to the man attacked by robbers?’’ ‘‘The one who treated him kindly,’’ the religion scholar responded. Jesus said, ‘‘Go and do the same.’’’
    • Instead of limiting the number of people a good person should help, Jesus said that a good person should help anyone in need. The man was probably quite annoyed that he’d asked the question – he left knowing exactly what he should do the next time he came across someone in need.
  • [PowerPoint slide 10]
    • It seemed at first that Miss Shepherd had nothing in common with the residents of Gloucester Crescent, and some of them may well have viewed her as an enemy. She didn’t fit with their view of what a good neighbour should look, or smell, like.
    • As human beings we are quick to judge other people, and decide whether or not they are the kind of people we want to be friends with. We are often suspicious of people who are different, and sometimes we become aggressive like the man on the street towards people who look, act, smell or sound different.
    • It’s a challenge to think that being a good person might involve helping someone who is not like us. It’s an even greater challenge to think that it might involve helping someone who doesn’t want our help.
  • [PowerPoint slide 11]
    • Alan Bennett developed a fondness for the old lady who lived in his driveway, and the film is based on the play he wrote about her. As she said in the clip, this gentleman was her neighbour. Sometimes we are rewarded for helping others by making a new friend or by discovering that people are not so different from us. But we will only discover this if we’re willing to show some courage and choose to help the people others might judge or ignore.

Headings and Bullets

Download the This is my Neighbour PowerPoint for use with this talk.

  • [PowerPoint slide 1]
    • Neighbours theme tune.
    • How many of us would call our neighbours good friends?
  • [PowerPoint slide 2]
    • Getting on with people can be hard work.
    • We don’t choose our neighbours.
    • Arguments can break out that last for years.
  • [PowerPoint slide 3]
    • The Lady in the Van is described as a ‘mostly true’ story.
    • The playwright Alan Bennett encountered an objectionable old lady.
    • Miss Shepherd lived in a van parked in the road.
    • Variety of reactions to Miss Shepherd.
    • Play the clip from The Lady in the Van (BBC Films, 2015, certificate 12)
      • Start time: 00:07:38
      • End time: 00:12:30
      • Clip length: 4 minutes and 52 seconds
  • [PowerPoint slide 4]
    • Miss Shepherd is not an easy neighbour to get along with.
    • Probably wouldn’t fit in well to Ramsay Street!
    • Eventually Alan Bennett invites her to park her van on his driveway.
    • She lives there for fifteen years.
    • Other people are sympathetic towards Alan but none of them is willing to offer her a space to park.
  • [PowerPoint slide 5]
    • Different reactions to the old lady.
    • The man on the street was aggressive towards her because he thought she was a beggar.
    • The couple were worried about the value of their property.
    • And although the family was willing to help because they felt sorry for her she didn’t want their pity and they didn’t get any thanks for it!
  • [PowerPoint slide 6]
    • The Parable of the Good Samaritan.
    • Jesus told the story to answer a question he was asked by someone who wanted to live a good life.
    • Possibly the man was keen to work out how few people he had to help.
    • Story about a man travelling on a dangerous road who is attacked by bandits, robbed and left for dead.
    • A number of people walk down the road: a priest, a Levite – or temple official – and a Samaritan – an enemy of the man who has been attacked.
    • There’s a twist in the tale when Jesus reveals who stopped and helped the man in the story.
    • Read Luke 10:30-37 (MSG)
  • [PowerPoint slide 7]
    • The man hearing the story would have expected Jesus to say that the religious people stopped and helped.
    • Perhaps he began to get his hopes up that he didn’t have to help anyone in order to be a good person.
  • [PowerPoint slide 8]
    • Suddenly Jesus turned the story on its head.
    • The man hearing it would not have expected an enemy to stop and help.
    • He wasn’t going to get off the hook if he wanted to be a good person.
  • [PowerPoint slide 9]
    • Instead of limiting the number of people a good person should help, Jesus was saying that a good person should help anyone in need.
    • The man was left knowing exactly what he should do the next time he came across someone in need – anyone!
  • [PowerPoint slide 10]
    • Miss Shepherd had nothing in common with the residents of Gloucester Crescent.
    • Some of them may well have viewed her as an enemy.
    • She didn’t fit with their view of what a good neighbour should look, or smell, like.
    • As human beings we are quick to judge other people.
    • Often suspicious of people who are different.
    • Sometimes we become aggressive like the man on the street.
    • It’s a challenge to think that being a good person might involve helping someone who is not like us.
    • An even greater challenge to think that it might involve helping someone who doesn’t want our help.
  • [PowerPoint slide 11]
    • Alan Bennett developed a fondness for the old lady who lived in his driveway.
    • The film is based on the play he wrote about her.
    • As she said in the clip, this gentleman was her neighbour.
    • Sometimes we are rewarded for helping others by making a new friend or by discovering that people are not so different from us.
    • But we will only discover this if we’re willing to show some courage and choose to help the people others might judge or ignore.

Photo Copyright for This is my Neighbour PowerPoint: Slide 1 Nicola Dove Sony Pictures Classics / Slide 2 Nicola Dove Sony Pictures Classics / Slide 3 Sony Pictures Classics / Slide 4 Miss Shepherd by Nicola Dove Sony Pictures Classics,  Mr Bennett by Nicola Dove Sony Pictures Classics / Slide 5 Nicola Dove Sony Pictures Classics / Slides 6-9 LUMO Project / Slide 10 Nicola Dove Sony Pictures Classics / Slide 11 BBC Films / Slide 12 Miss Bennett by Nicola Dove Sony Pictures Classics, Good Samaritan LUMO Project


RESPOND

Prayer

  • Dear God
    Forgive us when we judge people because they are not like us.
    Help us to treat other people with kindness and love.
    Help us to love the people who are our enemies.
    Help us to be willing to help others even when it costs us.
    Amen.

Reflection

  • [PowerPoint slide 12]
    • Display the PowerPoint slide with the two questions and play some reflective music as you invite students to think about who they might help. If you have time you may want to ask them to write the name of somebody they find difficult on a piece of paper and resolve to do something kind for them today.

Questions

  • Are you willing to help someone different today?
  • What might that cost you?

YOU WILL NEED:

  1. A copy of The Lady in the Van (BBC Films, 2015, certificate 12). Click here to buy the DVD online.
  2. This is my Neighbour PowerPoint.
  3. Pieces of fruit and some music plus a small prize for Rotten Apples game.
  4. Reflective music and (if using them) paper and pens for Reflection.

 

Leave a Comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s