A former colleague, from so many years ago that I doubt he is still with us, used to often have a look of pain on his face. Although he had one of the best senses of humour of anyone I knew, he suffered a lot from various aches and pains and spent much of his later life swallowing painkillers. One of the things he hated most was when a stranger would quip ‘cheer up it might never happen’. He would cheer himself up by gently explaining to the stranger that his wife had just died or his son had recently perished in a mountain climbing accident. As far as I knew he had never married and had no children, but took some solace from confounding these poor strangers and making them feel slightly awkward about their cheery remarks. Those episodes highlighted how difficult it can be to understand what people are really feeling. So often, we take someone’s mood, stubbornness or even anger as a normal part of their personality, when really it is just a short term physical or emotional cry for help. They simply may not have taken their pain killer that day. Take Santa Claus for instance. He is obviously obese and his red face is a sure sign of an unhealthy lifestyle. He spends the whole year overseeing thousands of elves and planning a major global operation. And then he has the stress of having to visit about 150 million homes to deliver presents. Not delivering to Muslims, Hindus, Jews and Buddhists must be a bit of a time saver, but he’s such an all round nice guy he’s probably consumed with guilt about that. And clambering up and down chimneys carrying millions of presents must play havoc with his back. When you think of the potential for diabetes, heart attack, stroke and back problems he must be pumped full of medication. Imagine if one year he forgot to take his painkillers.