Put the Christmas tree up earlier. It was in a box under the stairs, and now it’s looking spunky with three thousand fairy lights on it and a shit load of golden tinsel and handcrafted ornaments I bought in a garden centre with pocket money back when I was a kid. Drinking a cup of tea and having a cigarette, I eyed up the tree with a sense of pride. It looked so pretty, and then I remembered the story from the news. The little girl in Syria, Bana Alabed. She’s just seven, and she sends out these tweets about what it’s like living in war-torn Aleppo. There’s this photo of her, the one used in her profile pic, and every time I look at it I feel so bad inside. She’s sat there with a book open on the table before her, and she’s got these pink plastic flowers in her hair. The look of sincerity on her face in one so young and living close to death while I’m here admiring the decorations on my fucking Christmas tree- it cuts me to pieces. The tweet that’s pinned to her wall tells the world she’s reading because she wants to forget about the war, and here I am making excuses not to read because I’m too lazy. All through the day I kept looking at that photo, kept searching her eyes and feeling myself crumble. She deserves to live, and I deserve to die. She needs to be safe and I just need to be put out of my misery. And so to lift my mood I went on Wikipedia and read an article about the massacre of Srebrenica. There was one detail among the horrors that forced me to stop reading. It was an eye witness account of someone recalling how they saw a pregnant woman have her belly cut open by two attackers who then ripped out and stamped to death her twin foetuses. After this, they finished the mother off by slitting her throat. And then there’s Nankin and then there’s Hama and then there’s Dunblane and then there’s 9/11 and 7/7 and Bastille and the Bataclan and Sinjar and Peshawar and those dark brown eyes of Bana as she sits at her desk with that shy smile on her face in the midst of atrocities, and here I am- this mess of a man who feels like shit for no reason, who complains that life is unfair while he soaks in a hot bath listening to Interpol. I am a fraud. A phoney. If only I could be numb like I used to be. If only I could sink my head beneath the sand- because what is there to do? What can be done at all? The absurdity of this place is like a nail in my mind. The double standards- the hypocrisy. Man’s inhumanity to man never ceases to appal. Those who deserve to live a life of freedom and happiness like little Bana- how often are they denied by those who share the very same flesh and blood. This place, these people, this reflection, they disgust me.