Reflections on 2015

Another year has passed, and for me it’s been a year of firsts: the first year of living abroad, the first working for a PR agency, and also the first as an engaged lady. As I sit here reflecting on the last twelve months I feel an overwhelming sense of gratitude. Many people do not have the wonderful things I have: loving and unswervingly supportive family, fiance and friends, a good job, a great apartment in a city that I have come to love, and the means (well, almost – thanks to the expense of our 2016 wedding this point is a work in progress) to pursue the lifetime of adventure that I crave.

Many of this year’s events have highlighted the shocking disparity between those of us who have, essentially, ‘lucked out’ in life’s lottery, and those who have never even had the opportunity to buy a ticket. I have been particularly affected by the refugee crisis, which, as residents of Brussels, has been literally on our doorstep – both in Brussels and in the ‘jungle’ of Calais that we pass by so regularly on our Eurostar trips home to visit friends and family. How easily we Europeans take for granted our freedom of movement, when our brothers and sisters from Syria and Sudan have nothing but doors slammed in their faces when they try to pass through borders and seek escape from persecution and a better life for themselves and for their families. Their plight is heartbreaking, and the ability of so many to turn the other cheek nothing less than horrifying.

But it’s not all doom and gloom. Sometimes, just as I am about to despair of humanity altogether, something will come along to restore my faith. And the many ordinary people who have been galvanized by the refugee crisis into coming together to help have done just that. I have been following in particular the activities of The Worldwide Tribe, a fantastic group of young people from the UK who have been documenting the experiences of those in the Calais jungle, and in the process raising money to help improve their situation. Such dedication and commitment to this important cause is awe-inspiring, and goes to show that anyone can make a positive difference in the world, if only they have the drive and determination to do so.

I hope that those for whom 2015 was challenging will find fresh perspective, hope and happiness in 2016. And for everyone else, keep doing what you’re doing! May your year be filled with peace and love.

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The Lurking Menace

The boy sits on his haunches, watching the world as it passes him by. His heavy coat is as black as his heart. His eyes are narrowed like a cat’s. He drags on a cigarette, long and hard, sucking the smoke into the furthest reaches of his lungs. With a flick of his wrist the butt is on the pavement, ground out beneath the heel of his steel-toed boot. He waits.

The girl leaves her apartment. The door slams shut behind her. Outside the air is cold, her breath manifested in a cloud above her head. She fiddles with her earphones, tucks her phone into her armband. She pulls her hat down low and starts to jog.

He sees her approach before she is aware of his presence. Seizing his advantage he springs into her path, grips her firmly by the shoulders.

She screams as his hands are upon her, shakes him off with surprising ease, runs faster, and is gone. Safe from his grasping reach.

He slinks back into the shadows, this wolf in men’s clothing, his face twisted into a grotesque smile. Because he knows something she doesn’t: His capacity to wait far exceeds her capacity to run.

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