Big Issue Vendor

Paul McNamee: Find hope, don’t try to bottle smoke

At Christmas, we can get caught in a hurry. We should pause – just pause. We can look up and reach a hand out

It is tempting. It is so tempting. There is so much out there to jive at and mock and jab. Every bit of the Brexit negotiation looks farcical. Just one of the twists – take David Davis revealing he hadn’t done the thing he insisted he had being doing, or Theresa May being pulled out of a meeting to be strongly admonished by Arlene Foster, so much that she abandons her plans – and you have a one-act play. One that ends with a banana-skin slip and trombone mocking noise.

There is no way of knowing if Brexit will be a success. None. It might work out. I hope it does. A lot of people who felt left behind in Britain voted for it. But they’re being let down all over again.

Still, it’s some kind of gift of the political leaders to put together a seasonal pantomime.

It doesn’t matter. Actually, that’s not right. It matters in a way that allows us to believe our fury or our Twitter clicks change events. It’s like bottling smoke. Though that smoke, I grant you, is coming from a re that somebody set, ran away from and has brought petrol rather than water to extinguish.


If you pay for the magazine you should always take it. Vendors are working for a hand up, not a handout.

I mean that in the moment, in this moment, there are other things around us to focus on.

I learned last week about the death of a much-loved young lad from my neighbourhood. He was 14. It was sudden. This tragedy is compounded by the fact that his mother died of cancer just two years ago. I can’t imagine the pain that boy’s family must be feeling.

At Christmas, we can get caught in a hurry. We should pause – just pause. Ring whoever it is we’ve been meaning to ring, but haven’t found time. Do it now. And go and visit whoever we’ve been meaning to visit. Find moments of joy. Be with people in those moments. Speak to those we know are a little lost or alone or lonely. Then speak again.

In this week’s edition of The Big Issue we carry stories from the wonderful Nightingale House, a hostel in south Wales.

On Christmas morning 50 kids will waken up there, rather than in their homes. Far from feeling sorry for themselves, the stories are of community and togetherness, of light. They are not mawkish, and they’ll lift you.

They show that when heartache and horror knock at the door, we can look up and reach a hand out. There is hope.

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