Dragged down a hole in the ground into hell

My baby teeth must have been stubborn and I remember my Mum taking me to the health clinic on the Bath Road, Hounslow for one to be extracted under anaesthetic.

The strong memory of that day, some 50 years ago, is the weird dream I had after the mask was placed over my face to knock me out with gas: I was watching myself being dragged down an underground tunnel in a scene mixing our Snakes and Ladders game board with Alice in Wonderland.

This disturbing image remains with me and, over my teenage and adult years, after surfacing from anaesthetic for a number of different operations – it’s not a hobby, honestly – I have often wondered whether these were glimpses of insanity. In fact, I used to fear going mad.

I don’t fear insanity any more, not for myself.

However, I wonder whether I see insanity around me.

I see people who I thought were reasonable and well-balanced tearing themselves apart with their hatred for others, simply because other people hold a different view.

It is dangerous to assume that people with other views do not want to reach the same results that we want.

It is even more dangerous to lump together all people who have a certain belief or thought into a single evil stereotype.

Disappointment, frustration and anger are both reasonable and necessary.

Hatred is not: it is insanity.

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