I KNOW bad things have always happened. But I can’t be alone in feeling like really scary bad things are happening with a much more alarming regularity than ever before.
Somehow, we have become a nation that seems incapable of tolerance and kindness. People are shouting, lashing out and even attacking each other over ridiculous, tiny grievances or perceived slights.
It is no longer only on social media that people feel free to let rip and lay into each other, but in real life as well.
An appalling increase in intolerance has left many people — whether politicians or just regular everyday folk — scared that they are at risk of attack for their views or their beliefs.
Although we have become accustomed to reading about bad news, even the hardened cynic must have felt genuine shock reading some of the stories in the papers this week.
Like the story about a wedding in Swansea where it was alleged the best man punched, grabbed and pulled his brother’s bride down a flight of stairs by her dress — on her big day. And also last week, in East London, a young man was brutally killed with a machete.
Exauce Ngimbi was only 22 and the man, who has been charged with the murder, is only 26. Ngimbi was one of three men in their twenties killed last week as London’s murder toll is approaching its highest number in a decade.
I could go on. But the point is that there is too much needless violence, too many pointless deaths and too much anger. And it is not just in London, either, as this kind of thing is happening all over the country. It is enough to make any of us despair.
And then, like a little ruby glinting in the dust, I read the impossibly good story about the four 14-year-old schoolboys from Poole, Dorset, who pushed 90-year-old pensioner Alan Stanyon on his mobility scooter one mile home after his buggy ran out of battery.
Not only that, but they then refused the fiver he offered them to say thanks. Teenagers have such a bad name. In fact, lots of us are scared of them. But these four boys honestly made my week. Well, that and the General Election result.
For a start, it just makes a lovely change to reading about murderous, machete-wielding young people, and people so furiously angry that they think their only solution is violence. But these four boys’ parents, especially their mums, must be so proud of them.
It just goes to show that if you teach kids compassion and empathy they turn out as decent human beings and adults. So bravo to their parents as well as the boys. But this story made me realise what a rarity it is to read pretty much anything good about teenagers.
And the news in general makes me feel like we all need to take a long hard look at our behaviour and actively start being more tolerant — and kinder. Or else things are going to decline even more to the point that people will start to be scared to even leave their houses.
So here are my suggestions: Let’s not all succumb to the pressures we are all variously under, and the vile behaviour that is becoming the norm. Let’s hang on to our values and realise we can all make a difference and let’s resolve to do that on a daily basis. And let’s all instil that message into our kids, too.
There is so much bad news out there. Let’s make it our business to try to create some good news by being the change, being good people and doing good deeds and things. Because no act of kindness, however small, goes unnoticed.
Dad of seven should get a job
BEFORE reading the interview with his partner’s mother, I guess it might have been possible to feel sympathy for Ryan Rodgers. He says he is so desperate for money to feed his family that he has been asking for cash donations from strangers in an online fundraising appeal.
Ryan, 26, and his partner Jenny Grimes, 25, have seven children and used to receive £2,100 a month in financial support. But benefit caps have meant they are left to survive on £480 a month.
As a result, Ryan, Jenny and their children, who are all aged seven and under, rely on food banks, help from charities and favours from friends and family.
Ms Grimes insists that she and her partner feel “ashamed” about having to ask for donations. Meanwhile Ryan, of Kirkby, Liverpool, says he is prone to depression, which has made it hard to work.
Of course, if someone can’t work because of illness, then, well, that is what the benefits system is there for. But according to Jenny’s mother, Ryan will squander any money on alcohol and cigarettes.
She says the only thing he has ever done is get her daughter pregnant seven times. After reading that, all sympathy just evaporates, doesn’t it?
Rather than relying on handouts, why doesn’t Ryan just go and get a job like the rest of us?
A pace up it's sleeve
I NEED little convincing to agree it makes sense for food packaging to tell people how much exercise they will need to do to burn off whatever food or drink they are about to consume.
Surely that will be much more effective at encouraging healthier choices than simply listing the calories. Unless you have ever been a member of Weight Watchers, the nitty-gritty of calories is a fairly abstract business to most of us.
But also, we all love to delude ourselves that “just one more” won’t make any difference. So I am in full agreement with the Royal Society for Public Health’s call for physical activity calorie equivalent (PACE) labelling to be introduced, so consumers can find out how many minutes or miles of exercise they need to do to burn off the calories in a particular product.
I, for one, would probably think twice about scoffing a packet of Pringles if I knew exactly how many minutes’ penance on the treadmill I would have to commit to afterwards.
Beware the Max factor
GHISLAINE Maxwell is the woman often referred to as paedophile Jeffrey Epstein’s enabler or, worse, his pimp. She has been conspicuous by her absence since he committed suicide. But now she is apparently in talks with a major American TV network for a tell-all interview.
The British socialite was in the now infamous photo of Prince Andrew with Virginia Roberts. She has denied allegations against her and supposedly wants to defend Andrew after his disastrous Newsnight interview.
If this is true, she must think she’s doing the prince a favour – she is not. When someone who has been accused of being a pimp offers to speak up for you and clear your name, only the opposite can happen, since she currently lacks any credibility at all.
Plus, she should be talking to the police, not a TV show.
The Queen of shops
IF you are feeling a tad over- whelmed by the expensive logistical challenge that is Christmas, spare a thought for the Queen. Her Majesty spends a staggering £30,000 on 620 seasonal gifts for family and staff, according to one former aide.
The 93-year-old great-grandmother also sends 750 Christmas cards, and a whopping 1,500 Christmas puddings are given to palace workers and staff. I have fewer than ten people to buy for and am stuck for inspiration, so this list really boggles my mind.
It also makes me wonder if she goes late-night shopping or shops online. And as for getting all those gifts wrapped up, I just hope she has plenty of helping hands.
I ADMIRE anyone who is single-minded in pursuit of a goal. But when people are really fixated with a particular achievement, there’s a danger their judgment will be clouded.
Take the world- champion body-builder in Russia who started training at the age of 14 after her dad thought exercise would improve his daughter’s self-esteem. Nataliya Kuznetsova, now 28, right, says: “I was a timid little mouse when I was growing up.”
Clearly, she has achieved her goal. But my goodness me, her knees are tiny compared to the rest of her body. Is this sport, or abuse?
AS the 15th series of The Apprentice draws to a close, I have to say that I am prouder than ever to be a part of it.
Yet again, it has been another ratings hit.
The show is still top-notch entertainment, as well as life-changing for the young person who wins it.
It is living proof that some TV shows can run for years and years and still be as good as ever.
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