I’ve never had any difficulty in believing in the power of The Word. (Not The Word that was God; just the ordinary word.) If you are quick and clever with words, or have a deadly turn of phrase, can deliver a killer closing line, can make people laugh then it’s as though you have been presented at your birth with your own personal Excalibar. Word skill is like an invisible sword which is always present and will come leaping to your hand before ever you’ve called for it. It’s dangerous and deadly and people who come to know that you possess it tend to approach you with caution.

This week the news has been dominated by the misfortunes of ‘migrants’ and the result has been to demonstrate conclusively that one picture can be worth a thousand words.

We could all mount a reasoned argument for or against the admittance into our country of more, or fewer, refugees. Even though words can be evocative, passionate and powerful, they largely provoke a ‘thinking’ response. So one might read the article and reflect, yes, that’s a well reasoned argument but never the less it is also true that we are a small island, already quite heavily populated. These people are certainly needful but we have our own poor and afflicted to care for with limited resources. Also by what right do these ‘migrants’ bring their troubles – which are not especially of our making – to our doors? These matters should be sorted out where they came from, and we will contribute our share of aid to expedite matters with all possible speed. Meanwhile they should go away and stop causing a disturbance on our door step.

I am not a sentimental or romantic person, nor am I overflowing with tender emotions. Yet as soon as I set eyes on the photograph of the boy washed up on the beach, I began to weep. Someone had dressed him for his perilous journey with such high hopes for his survival and it had all come to naught. How desperate had his parents been to risk their precious child on this ill-fated voyage? There he lay, face down on the sand, gently deposited by the waters and it might have been one’s own beloved son in his youth, or one’s lovely grandson, or the tender infant relative of any one of us.

Not a single word was required.

Open up our barriers, I thought. Stuff the economic arguments – I don’t care how sound they are. Open the gates right now, at once. Send people out to carry them in. We should give these refugees shelter out of compassion, but also out of fear lest the Fates punish us for our hard heartedness, and our own darling children are exposed to such a dreadful fate.

This little boy, this loved and valuable boy, deserved no less than any child of ours.

About adhocannie
I am a good natured woman with a long memory and a swift tongue. I like loooking at things and thinking about them. Also food, clothes, travel, reading, sewing. I try to see the ridiculous in things, but sobriety of reflection keeps edgting in. I have husband, children, grandchildren, friends... I feel rich in things that matter. I am a happy exile. I like writing. I do not like talking about me (though I do.). You willl be much more interesting.


  1. I think so many of us wept. I cannot think of him even now without weeping. If he proves to be the means whereby we can offer sanctuary to as many as possible of these people then perhaps he will not have died in vain.

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