Just recently I have published a small anthology of verses, entitled “Saint or Monster”. The cover was designed by my 15 year old grand-daughter Issy Robertson (she did the illustrations for “Do’s it have a Hamster” last year) and for this cover she chose to draw Mother Teresa and Hitler as representatives of the two extremes.

The verses are actually mainly light and tongue in cheek, but it did start me thinking about this title and how it applied to everyday life today.

My first thought was that in general the characters of people seem to me to have become more polarised lately. This may be because we have so much immediate news and the many fallen idols have quick exposure.  In 2017 we have several outstanding examples of ‘monster’ –  and in those I would include Trump, Kim Jong-in, Putin, all the leaders of Isis – and then most recently the sexual predator Harvey Weinstein.  He comes at the end of a depressing long list of these depraved individuals who are just beginning to be exposed, Jimmy Savile being the leader of this ghastly bunch.

Oscar Wilde said, “Everything in the world is about sex, except sex.  Sex is about power.” It strikes me that most monsters have been created by their desperate search for power.  Power leads to corruption.  Once power is in the hands of the wrong people, then the damage  becomes deadly and affects us all.

After the worst of the ‘monsters’ comes the large army of people who are just more inclined to be bad than good.  Most of these are driven by ambition and greed. Many of them are politicians, Boris, Farage and Gove topping my list.  But there are those we meet in everyday life – the scammers, the cheaters and the bullies –  who will do anything to achieve their ambitions.  I have recently narrowly escaped being a victim of a scam and I have been shocked by the behaviour of two bullying landlords.  They do not get the notoriety of the more famous ‘monsters’ but our lives are full of these terrible people.

So where are the saints? Well happily there are plenty of them, but these people tend to work away quietly for the good of humanity and do not seek publicity of any kind.  There are so many good people, young and old, trying to work to make life better –  and for a start I would add all the doctors, nurses and health professionals who work tirelessly in the NHS for little reward,  I am particularly grateful to them, as next week I face a major operation and know that the NHS, stretched at it is, will take good care of me. To these I would add the police and firefighters, most of them good people.  There are also the army of those who work in charities, making life better for so many who need it.  Just occasionally there are the really good politicians who have the very best of intentions while working in difficult circumstances.  I would include Barack Obama of course  – and perhaps more surprisingly Nick Clegg, who has often been greatly maligned but has always struck me as a man of integrity.

Sometimes there is a fall from grace  – from good to bad.  This is devastating particularly if they have achieved almost saintly status and then we become disillusioned.  Most devastating of all amongst these is Aung San Suu Kyi who had reached almost ‘sainthood’ and has now been toppled to monster status. Then there are the sports stars and celebrities who have forfeited our admiration through their actions.

Perhaps with more public exposure, these monsters will lessen in numbers, or at any rate start to lose their power. I have always been an optimist!