Christmas is not complete without a tree; not just any tree but a proper Christmas tree though choosing one on a warm sunny day felt very weird last weekend. When I first moved to Spain it was almost impossible to find a decent tree, one year in desperation I ended up buying two of those tiny ones with their pots wrapped in tacky gold tin foil that businesses put outside their doors.
Another year I dragged a tree all the way back from Sotogrande near Gibraltar (well put it in the boot of the car) as the larger ex-pat population in the area means shops and garden centres are jam packed with traditional British decorations that are all made in China. Apart from the two little ones I mentioned that I planted in pots in afterwards, I have never managed to get a proper tree to survive. As I child however, I fondly recall my granddad standing proudly next to a huge Norway spruce in his garden which he had planted after a Christmas back in the 1950s.
Americans have the highest number of guns per 100 inhabitants (88.7) in the world; they also have the highest number of deaths per year by firearms in the world (17,000). Factor in the 60,000 people that get injured every year by guns and the statistics make even grimmer reading.
The weekend saw the dreadful Sandy Hook school massacre in Connecticut, America with 20 children and 6 teachers shot dead. Adam Lanza 20 an ex student, as if in his own video game, used 5 guns and ammunition legally held by his mother to kill as many innocents as possible before turning the gun on himself. He was wearing black military style gearm a bullet poof vest and mask. Lanza was also legally allowed to own the rifles but not any pistols. I wonder how he got access to the guns as he used one to kill his mum with. There were 3 other weapons he had access to. I am guessing the kid was unemployed so how the hell did he get the money for a bullet proof vest – did he ask for one from Christmas? Now it has come to light that Adams mother was in the process of getting him commited yet he lived in a house full of weapons.
This despicable and disturbed kid guarantees his actions will be remembered for a long time for the most unsavoury reasons. The bravery of the staff at the school cannot be underestimated as they saved many lives. One child survivor ran from the school and told her mother ‘Mummy I am Ok but all my friends are dead.’
Within hours US media described the attack as the second worst ever. Will this sensationalist style of news reporting encourage the next crazy to go one better? Soon afterwards I read of a mother whose 2 young children were worried about going to school in case a ‘bad man’ hurt them. A difficult choice for a parent to make with two options, to reassure them that these things happen very rarely and everything will be fine as the teachers will look after them. Or, let them stay at home. It’s awful that these terrible things happen but to put things into perspective there are around 130,000 schools in the United States looking after over 60 million children. There have been 16 other people murdered in schools by guns in 2012.
In 2012 American school children and their teachers faced a 1 in1.4 million chance of being murdered at school. At the same time they were twice as likely to drown in the bath, 4 times more likely to choke to death whilst eating and a massive 18,000 times more likely of being killed in a transport accident instead of being shot by a crazed gun man. Finally on a cheerful note if we survive the Mayan prophecy regarding the 21st there is still a 1 in 10,000 chance a 100m wide asteroid will hit earth next year. Happy Christmas everyone – don’t be scared!