Chew this over as 2017’s bright idea

The man be­hind the mic

The Peterborough Evening Telegraph - - Paulstainton -

The story of 2016 was one of de­par­ture and demise, a year when, just like a bou­quet of gor­geous roses, kissed once too of­ten by the sun, some things just with­ered and died.

Ge­orge Or­well him­self could have penned the script for the last twelve dystopian and bru­tal months; full of ha­tred, vi­o­lence and death.

But even he might have writ­ten hope into the story of Syria; as each side raced to mur­der their fel­low men, women and chil­dren - The world was force­ful in its words but pros­trate in its ac­tion. Hu­man­ity per­ished as we ate our sup­per and watched the nightly news.

Death pros­pered in 2016, claim­ing lives across the globe, as ter­ror­ists did their worst, in ef­fort to spread panic and pit man against man, re­li­gion against re­li­gion.

It is dif­fi­cult to know our en­emy these days but that should not be an ex­cuse to mis­trust ev­ery­one just be­cause of the colour of their skin or the par­tic­u­lar na­ture of their wor­ship.

We have been sent Don­ald Trump and Brexit to help de­fend us against these an­i­mals but I am quite sure that Mr Or­well would claim that trust is our best de­fence.

Even our light re­lief was pep­pered by tragedy and heart­break last year as star name af­ter star name took their fi­nal bows and ex­ited stage right.

As we tucked into the turkey and passed the cran­berry sauce, Ge­orge Michael’s name was added to an al­ready long list.

His mu­sic rep­re­sented a num­ber of dif­fer­ent stages of my life and seemed to re­flect per­fectly how I was chang­ing as a per­son.

From a teenager, danc­ing to “Bad boys” in a disco, in Bridling­ton, to my mid­dleaged self, re­flect­ing qui­etly on life, through the lyrics of “Je­sus to a child”, he seemed to have a song to cap­ture ev­ery part of my jour­ney through life. I was hop­ing for more of those tunes to ac­com­pany me in the fu­ture.

But never mind the de­spair of 2016, I have hope that 2017 will be a bet­ter year, one that will re­dis­cover hope, com­pas­sion and love for our fel­low man.

That vi­sion of hope for the new year came to me in the shape of a stick of chew­ing gum.

As I ex­ited Peter­bor­ough city hos­pi­tal this week, hav­ing been treated (with kind- ness and the ut­most pro­fes­sion­al­ism) for an al­ler­gic re­ac­tion, which had caused my face to re­sem­ble Bingo out of the Banana Splits (tra la la) the gum was of­fered to me, un­prompted, by a gen­tle­man on crutches.

Hear­ing my vain plea to my daugh­ter, with­out a word, he gen­tly held out his hand and pre­sented me with a small, white stick of minty, hu­man kind­ness.

I took this as a sign, a sign that we can all help make the world bet­ter place, even if we do it with one small, self­less, ges­ture at a time.

Just think, in fu­ture, in­stead of em­ploy­ing bounc­ers to deal with the home­less, we could spend the thou­sands of pounds it cost to em­ploy them, on blan­kets, ac­com­mo­da­tion and hot meals for those that need them.

We could build houses for peo­ple that don’t have them so that other peo­ple don’t have to be forced out of their homes to make room for them and per­haps we could en­sure that our chil­dren can all read to a de­cent stan­dard in our city.

Maybe we should just start with the chew­ing gum thing.

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