THE ‘NETTE EFFECT: Take care this Christmas
It was a bright and sunny day, the kind you would wish Christmas Day to be. But beneath this cheerful exterior tragedy awaited.
As the sun held its late afternoon position high in the sky, some bored young people began to make their way to the popular spot in the area.
Christmas lunch over and with our bulging bellies to prove it, we, the young, sought adventure on the outside while the older folks retired to the living room. The group in front of my childhood home was in full flight on some philosophical discussion we lacked the experience and information to fully pontificate on. Nevertheless, we continue in our naïveté.
Then another of our colleagues rounded the corner and announced that there was smoke coming from the back of the very house where we had congregated. The alarm went up.
The house now had a lone occupant and, panic-stricken, we began to call him. The more there was silence from the house, the louder our cries of “Charlie!” became and increased by the split second fuelled by that ominous smoke billowing from the house.
One brave soul eventually broke though the door and pulled a still-dazed Charlie to safety.
By now the entire area was on full alert and in rescue mode as the expanding flames threatened at least three homes within its immediate range. Residents salvaged what they could, unable to believe they were on the receiving end of such a cruel Christmas Day “gift”.
In the distance the comforting sound of sirens grew and relief swept over the district. The firemen were not able to save the first house but apart from some singed clothes on the line and the telltale signs of soot on the side of a few homes, a major crisis had been averted. A home had been lost but a life was prolonged.
Not every potential tragedy will present itself in this form, allowing neighbours and friends to intervene. This season it may be a case of over-imbibing or not paying enough attention when frolicking. At this time police and others charged with our well-being make appeals for us to be careful.
Recently NBC aired a programme in which it secretly placed an actor playing a stumbling drunk in a group to see whether members would allow him to drive in that condition.
In the segment I saw most did and one man shockingly said stopping a drunk driver from getting behind the wheel was not his responsibility. Two other women refused to allow him to drive and were about to call in the police. Thank God for persistent people!
Readers, I implore you: if ever you are in a position where you can foresee harm coming to a person, please intervene.
In the meantime, Merry Christmas, everyone.
• Antoinette Connell is the DAILY NATION Editor.