The Sunday Post (Inverness)

My week by Francis gay

Susan’s always sparkling company... like any true pal


Some years ago, Susan began suffering from a chronic pain. It put a severe cramp on one of her best friendship­s. She couldn’t be counted on as much any more.

She didn’t want to do any “fun” things. One of the last things her friend said to her before they stopped seeing each other was that she had lost her sparkle.

Gradually, she restructur­ed her life, saying goodbye to old pleasures, but finding different delights. And more of them!

Recently, she heard that an accident had left her old friend suffering from chronic pain. “What are you going to do?” I asked. “Visit her,” Susan said.

“Why?” I asked.

“Because,” she replied, in a voice that spoke of having been there and having grown past resentment, “I imagine she will need some sparkle in her life right now.”

Vickie runs a group that teaches wellbeing through good thoughts and practices.

The general philosophy being that good breeds good – and the world could always do with more of that! Her group raised some money for the local food bank and I happened to be there when she arrived to donate it. A friend who was having a coffee nearby asked what she was doing and I explained. “Ohh,” my friend said, “well I’d like to donate.” As she waited for her receipt I casually mentioned that just by giving Vickie had caused that gift to almost be doubled. She actually cheered with happiness. Goodness and kindness always attract more like themselves. The ones who give don’t always reap the benefit – unless you consider their increased happiness – but the world is always better for it!

“December probably wasn’t the best time to be tackling a coastal walk,” James told me.

Stormy weather had forced him and his walking partner inland, where they got lost on a golf course before finally reaching a road.

They were carrying large rucksacks and trying to read a map in the gusting wind and pouring rain when a car pulled into the kerbside.

“The man never asked our name,” James told me, “and we never asked his. He lifted our rucksacks into his roof-box, turned up the heating in the car, and drove us ten miles to a train station. He checked we had train fare, shook our hands, and wished us the best.”

All the while he was telling me this story I was waiting for a punchline or a point. “But… isn’t it nice to know there are people like that out there?” he asked.

And… actually… that’s enough of a point!

She had said she would “take a chance” on the clothes she had when going to her college interview.

So, Harry took her to the nearest clothes shop, told her to pick an outfit, and paid for it. A mutual friend of ours called him a soft touch. The woman was a recovering addict, he said. If she even got onto the course, she’d never last. She claimed she was trying to turn her life around, hoping for a second chance.

Harry asked if it was true she had been a paramedic and suffered from PTSD before turning to drugs. Our friend admitted it was. “And if you had been in desperate need of medical help back then and she turned up – would you have appreciate­d her offering you a second chance?” “Aye,” he said. Then he gave Harry some money to buy some books for the hopeful new student.

Birds bring us joy all summer long,

But in winter, really strive, Especially on days of ice and snow, To keep themselves alive. Ensuring they have water, Bird food, scraps or bread, Will help our feathered friends


Until the brighter days ahead.

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