6th December. St. Nicholas

Today is the feast of St. Nicholas who was a bishop in Cappadocia or some part of what is now eastern Turkey. The legend is that a merchant in the town went bust and he was not able to pay a dowry for his three daughters. The family’s fate and especially that of the daughters looked desperate. The Bishop heard of their plight and while walking each evening through the town threw a bag of gold through the girls’ window. The bag landed on one bed the first night, and then on another two nights he did the same, so that all the girls were saved from poverty. Hence gifts, which many countries give today, and socks at the end of the bed. It is also the fifth anniversary of the big flood in Kendal, and other parts of the county. So far no flood defences have been built but they may be on their way. There has been a big debate between those who want to preserve the trees on the river bank and those who need the defences. One of the problems with local democracy is the loudest and most clued-up voice often gets its way, and one of the jobs of local representatives must be to make sure that all sections of the community are heard. It also needs that listening ear to be as empty of bias as possible, and that is a hard thing to be. Sometimes in a democracy we have to do things we do not want to, even think are not a good idea, and that applies to more than flood defences.

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