There was a story in the papers this week about a man on a train who, as he disembarked, slipped a note with five pounds in it to a young mother whom he had noticed on the train with her young son. The note read ‘Have a drink on me. You are a credit to your generation, polite and teaching the little boy good manners.’ The fact that this is newsworthy says a lot about our expectations of both young mothers and gentlemen on trains. We read so much about man’s inhumanity to man, cruelty and disasters in the papers and it is important, of course, that such things are reported so that we can do whatever we can to stop them or improve the lot of the worst affected.

But wouldn’t it be nice if we read more about the acts of kindness, big and little, that help us to view our fellow man with less nervousness, fear and suspicion that many of us do at present.

For instance, perhaps The Bucks Free Press could dedicate a page (or even half a page initially) for people to express their gratitude to all the kind strangers who hand in lost property, help someone who has dropped their shopping all over the pavement or come out without their purse or can't find their child in a supermarket. A regular forum for ‘thank-you’s and acknowledgements of the good that certainly exists in most of us, might serve to highlight for the many doubters that there is good in humanity.

Knowledge that there are some good people out there might just make someone think twice before breaking into a Telecom exchange and stripping out all the copper wire, depriving an area of the town of telephones and internet. That happened this week in Desborough, apparently. I may be fantasising in suggesting that the celebration of the good in us might deflect those who care for nothing but themselves from committing crime, but it must be worth a try.

Maybe too, we’ll no longer be so surprised when the Good Samaritan does stop to help us when we are in difficulty. It is another symptom of our age that the expectation of the basic decency of mankind has so diminished over the last decades to the point when that gentleman on the train’s actions are so memorable as to be worthy of publication.