There’s no doubt about it, 2016 has been one hell of a year, for a lot of people. In some ways it feels like it will never end, and we all hope that the cries of “happy new year” will prove to be prophetic. I have a lot to be grateful for though, particularly driven home this week. Whilst in Dundalk I met with one of my long standing regular clients, I’ve written in the past about how good some of my clients are. I’ve known some for a very long time and we’re good friends as well as regular partners. They’re also very adept at picking the right time to call, I still don’t know how they do that.
P and I got talking about a Street Cat Named Bob and the issue of homelessness, and he told me this story from Dublin, many years ago. He was approached by a man with a dog on a piece of string and asked if he could spare money as his dog was starving. Seeing the initial scepticism in P’s face, he went on to explain that he had been made homeless because his flat was taken over by the son of his deceased landlady, and a new rule of no pets was implemented. Try as he might, he couldn’t find another reasonably priced flat where dogs were allowed, so what followed was life on the streets, as with no home, he lost his job very quickly too and used up all goodwill in terms of staying on other people’s sofas. Even where he could go and get a hot meal himself, his dog wasn’t allowed in, and if he tried to smuggle scraps out, the other service users complained and wanted him banned as that was against the rules. He finished by saying that he had never stolen a thing in his life, so that was out, and invited P to hold the dog for five minutes if he didn’t believe him, saying “I’ll just call into Supermacs, he loves cheeseburgers”. Having been given £5 from P, he did indeed come back with some cheeseburgers, not one of them being for him. A very grateful and clearly ravenous dog ate them in a matter of seconds.
You know, I often acknowledge my privilege and rightly so, so when I looked at the beautiful Christmas stocking P had bought for HRH Pebbles, filled with treats, toys and snacks, I was just aghast. I couldn’t stop thinking about the man who was so devoted to his dog he was willing to forgo a bed for the night and in some cases, food. That puts a lot in perspective. But then, this year has been a lot about perspective. Of course it’s important and good that I won the first stage of my legal battle in Northern Ireland, but you see, I couldn’t have done that without a lot of people. My legal team are stupendous and now with Senior Counsel on board for the main hearing, the hard work really begins.
I also couldn’t have got through this year without my dear friends, those closest to me, who were there when personal life caved in and stress became too much – “Oh no you don’t. You’ve got this, and we’ve got you.” Those are very powerful words and people to be treasured.
There’s a saying I hear a lot, but it didn’t really sink home until the latter part of 2016 – “life’s too short”. It really, really is. So this year I intend to treasure every moment with my loved ones at home, and I sincerely hope you can too.
Have a fantastic Christmas break.