Chew this over as 2017’s bright idea

Peterborough Telegraph's Man behind the mic column by Paul Stainton, BBC Radio Cambridgeshire host - peterboroughtoday.co.uk
Peterborough Telegraph's Man behind the mic column by Paul Stainton, BBC Radio Cambridgeshire host - peterboroughtoday.co.uk
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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 middle-aged 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 kindness 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.