It was the best of times, it was the worst of times - to quote the master, Charles Dickens.
These are certainly different times but, as always, there is great sadness as well as joy at Christmas time.
The last two years have seen me lose two incredibly important people in my life and now just last week we lost another great and special friend.
He was a central character in our group of friends, and I have never ever met anyone who enjoyed and embraced life so much.
His courage and optimism against all the odds were inspiring to witness but also extremely humbling as I know for sure that I would have shrunk and despaired in the face of such monumental adversity.
We sincerely hope that Covid restrictions will not stop us celebrating a very special life in the next few weeks.
A global giant has also just left us, the truly great Desmond Tutu, the Noble Prize winning human activist, who should always serve as an inspiration to us all.
At the same time another inspirational man from a different walk of life has also sadly passed, Ray Illingworth, who I was lucky enough to spend a lot of time with.
Considered one of the great cricketing brains, he was also enormous fun which belied his somewhat dour exterior.
The England cricket team could certainly do with his wise counsel In Australia at the moment!
Talking of cricket, I have been horrified that another dear friend, David Lloyd, know to us all as ‘Bumble’ has been given the flick by Sky because of the truly stupid ‘cancel culture’ or ‘wokeism’ whatever you want to call it. I call it gross stupidity.
Bumble hasn’t got a racist bone in his body. What he does have in abundance, is a truly wonderful sense of humour.
When Bumble was playing for Lancashire, so were two of his and my best friends, Farokh Engineer and Clive Lloyd.
It was always a privilege to be part of this highly entertaining craic along with Radio 1 DJ Andy Peebles and my business partner at the time, Roy Mantle.
Insults were always hurled around, the bigger the insult, the bigger the laugh and the greater the love.
These characters were central to our cricket family, and I never ever heard one word of racism.
Of course, there were always a lot of jokes about me being a woman in cricket but nothing was ever said with malice and, of course, I was fair game.
Today, there seem to be numerous double standards, because Bumble’s so-called offensive remark was being dragged unwittingly into the Azeem Rafiq affair, and I understand that Rafiq was not offended either.
Added to this, Rafiq himself was guilty of anti-Semitic comments, for which he has apologised unreservedly.
This brings into focus the fact that everyone is guilty at some point of maybe saying the wrong thing.
Surely, we can all tell the difference between something said with malice and hate rather than harmless banter – and before I get castigated and abused for using the term ‘harmless banter’, I understand that sometimes that it is used to cover-up a more ugly and deeper hurt, but I do believe that that is in the minority.
We can and should always apologise unreservedly if we ever offend anyone, but we are seriously in danger of losing all proportion and worst of all, our sense of humour.
I was brought up in a family who basically adhered to the philosophy, that if you dish it out, you had better be able to handle it when it comes back to you.
The shorthand to this was ‘do unto others as you would have them do unto you’ – or you should always be able to laugh at yourself.
This grounding actually helped me deal with abusive and hurtful comments throughout my business life for just happening to be a woman in a so-called man’s world.
Another thing I was told as a child was it doesn’t take any longer to be kind than it does to be nasty – and yet the outcome is vastly different.
Everyone seems to be so angry these days.
So in this supposed season of goodwill, let’s try to be a little kinder to all around us and give thanks for all the wonderful people who are no longer with us, and who we all miss so very much.
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