It has taken me a long time to wean myself off news. By that I mean I still buy newspapers, especially this one.
I still keep up with events of the day and still turn up my radio on the hour when I am driving in my car.
But I am slowly becoming ‘normal’ . I no longer have to record ITN and the BBC news every night. And I no longer reach for my iPad every morning to see what has happened in the world while I have been sleeping. If I miss the news I no longer fear I am missing out on life. In fact quite the reverse.
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My news now revolves around family and friends and their news. Or planning the trip of a lifetime with a friend of 20 years because we are lucky enough to be able to do so. Or the highlight of the week, listening to the world’s best choir, The Drakensburg Boys Choir from South Africa singing alongside The Barnsley Youth Choir with such joy on their faces it made our world sing too.
It is a simpler life. But it is one which is actually liberating and much better for the soul. When it comes to news I have even heard myself saying to my husband just turn it off, I can’t bear any more. Rehabilitation, you see, is almost complete. I finally understand why too much news is depressing. That there are times when we actually don’t want to know what is happening. We just need to know that there is still enough good in the world to balance the bad.
So this week’s column isn’t news. It’s not going to cause my readers to self implode. It’s just a little story to make you feel warm on these dark dreary Autumn days to remind us all that everyone has a life worth living and a life worth celebrating. And that good things still happen to people every single day.
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Last week a lovely lady went with her mum to her local charity shop in a village on the outskirts of Huddersfield to buy a winter coat. Nothing wrong with a bit of recycling as you know and so many charities depend on such shops to continue their good work. Her mum chose a snuggly warm wool garment that was both smart and stylish and as my mum would say still had plenty of life left in it. She was delighted with her purchase.
When they got it home she reached into the pocket and pulled out a little card, the kind of which has gone out of fashion now with bright coloured flowers on the front, the kind your mum kept in a drawer for handwritten thankyou notes after birthdays, the kind you sent to your elderly aunt for Christmas.
This is what it said: “If this coat could speak it would tell that it belonged to a working class women from Croydon, who, through a Grammar school education went to Uni and then travelled to Africa to work as a jewellery buyer for Unilever. Here she met her ‘dashing’ husband who introduced her to another life of parties, drama and high living ( think rat pack). This coat has visited The Royal Opera House, the Cafe Royal, Masonic Ladies Nights, most London theatres and much more... It was always worn with love and pride and although it is 50 or 60 years old now I would like someone else to cherish it. X”
Doesn’t that just warm the cockles of your heart on so many levels? Firstly, it’s a lesson never to judge the life of someone you may just walk past on the street, a woman perhaps of a certain age who has on a warm woollen coat, perhaps not quite in fashion, who you might just pass on by without a second glance but in reality has a extraordinary story to tell of of extraordinary achievements and a ‘best coat’ which she wore to all the special events in her life.
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It is also the story of a daughter who loved her so much she wanted the world to know that she was proud of her and all she’d done and so she wrote a note and popped it in the pocket of her favourite coat when she took it to a charity shop after she had died. And now I am telling you.
So in a way this woman who through her own achievements became a jewellery buyer in Africa, then met the man of her dreams and lived a happy fulfilled life visiting places she never thought she would ever visit, confident in her best coat, has made the news.
You could write a book about that coat. You could write a film script full of glamour and drama and fun and memories about the woman who wore it. Or you could write a newspaper column about a woman whom we will never know, a woman who never made the news.
But a woman with a sense of purpose, a sense of style and a sense of pride. And a woman whose daughter made sure her story has now been told. And that is the best news ever.