"This Christmas week, please avoid drinking and driving whatever the temptation. I must admit, though I am not a big drinker, when I am having a good time, I have no difficulty drinking three or four gin and tonics which I know would take me over the permitted driving limit. While no family member or friend of mine has ever had a serious accident having drunk and driven, my previous work as a Probation Officer has led me to see the extreme outcomes of such foolishness more than once.
I will never forget one Christmas during the 1980s, two days before we broke for the festive holiday. I made a home visit to see a young male client of mine who had just come out of Borstal, only to discover a distraught mother answer the door in a flood of tears. Her eldest son and a friend had stolen a car in Birstall the previous night and had been chased by the police in a patrol car. Her son had been drinking heavily that night and was drunk before he got behind the wheel. They crossed the Birstall traffic lights at red around midnight and collided with a car travelling from the direction of Batley. Both my client, his friend and one person from the other vehicle died as a consequence.
The young man's mother never did seem to get over her son's tragic death and though I kept in touch with the family for a number of years thereafter (when the younger son became the subject of a Probation Order), Christmas for them was never the same again. Even for me, never a Christmas passes without my temporary recall of the face of the dead boy's mother.
Christmas is known as a time when we miss our loved ones who are no longer with us more than other times of the year. While my parents have been deceased for many years now, the feelings of loss, though tempered, have never really left me and they come to the fore without fail every Christmas.
I suppose that all humans are the same when it comes to coping with the death of a loved one. The less natural the death, the harder it is to come to terms with feelings of loss. Once you lose someone, there will always be a part of you missing however wholesome a being you are. Have a happy Christmas season and whatever the temptation, please don't drink and drive!" William Forde: December 28th, 2015.