Usually, I resist the easy option of creating a post by simply quoting or linking to a news item. Since the beginning of 2008, however, the news has been so uniformly depressing that I am happy to give everyone a lift by reporting this incident. It is a heart-warming tale of a narrow escape from danger, serving to remind us of the resourcefulness and courage of the youth of today and perhaps to make us all feel optimistic about the prospects for the coming year and more than ever confident that our island race still has a great deal to offer the world.
The BBC made a 300-word story of it, with an illustration, but a précis will suffice:
Mrs Marsey of Hartlepool is out for the day ... son and nephew are at home frying some bread ... they go to answer the door ... they come back, the pan is blazing ... fire threatens to engulf the house ... the brave lads find a pair of Mrs Marsey's giant knickers (size 18-20, M&S, £4.99) ... they wet them and throw them over the flames ... inferno is extinguished ... danger over, general rejoicing ... Mrs. M. says, "I think if they had been my daughter Sarah's skimpy knickers they wouldn't have done any good, I'm taking it all in my stride" ... Fire Brigade man says, "They did the right thing in the end. We advise everyone to get fire safety advice."
And, presumably, to keep a huge pair of knickers handy at all times.