Posts Tagged ‘Cancer Research; binge drinking; Health and Safety; Scr’


Did Scrooge have a point?

7 December, 2007

Going home on the last train from Glasgow Central last night, the young woman opposite me raised her head from where it was slumped against her boyfriend’s shoulder and vomited over the floor in front of me, missing my favourite party shoes by a fraction.

Nativity plays are on the wane, panto stars in Norfolk are banned from throwing sweets into the crowd for fear of litigation and – surely the ultimate absurdity – Historic Scotland has banned candles from being lit in Glasgow Cathedral, also on Health and Safety grounds (I’m not an historian, I admit, but electric light is a fairly modern invention: the Cathedral has stood since the 13th Century and appears to have coped with candles fairly well for 800 years).

Modern Britain: unrepentantly drunk and obsessed with Health and Safety.

 Add to that the fact that most people seem to start Christmas in November and consider Advent to mean ‘time to start Christmas shopping’, rather than time for reflection, and you could be forgiven for saying ‘bah humbug’ to the whole thing.

Except, except.

I was invited to the Cancer Research UK Concert in Glasgow Cathedral last night at the very last minute, to replace far more important guests who had had to drop out. The invitation came via a tenuous Conservative Party connection, and was extended to my husband. As HRH the Duke of Gloucester was attending, I had to provide a quick bio on self and husband, for security purposes.

It was a wonderful evening, with a drinks reception first, then the Concert, followed by a truly sumptuous dinner in the Crypt.

We had been allocated seats in row seven, but, just as we were going into the Cathedral, I was told that we were now in row three, right behind the Duke, with a fabulous view of everything. The concert captured my attention from the outset, so it was only mid way through that I began to wonder why I, as a last minute invitee, and a Nobody to boot, should have been given a position so close to the salt. Then it struck me: the compliment wasn’t for me as a newly-selected PPC, but for my husband, as a serving officer, and for me as a Service wife.

Conscious perhaps of the feelings expressed by soldiers that the people of this country don’t really understand or appreciate the sacrifices they are now being called upon to make, Cancer Research had found time in the midst of its last-minute arrangements for this high-profile, hugely important fundraising event to make a public show of support for our Service personnel and their families. We were their representatives last night, but the message was for all serving soldiers, sailors, airmen and their families.

As a Service wife, I was touched beyond measure. And that is surely the true spirit of Christmas.