JOHN GRIFF COLUMN: Getting together again creates a spark for positivity

On the face of it, a lot is going wrong in our world, writes John Griff.

Radio presenter John Griff relished the chance to talk to an audience face-to-face again
Radio presenter John Griff relished the chance to talk to an audience face-to-face again

The pandemic notwithstanding, there seems to be hardly a single element of what might have been our previous ‘normal’ that we can reach out and grasp once more to harvest positivity from.

Try writing a list of the things affecting your life now and look for those pluses.

But, as for some people the glass is half empty, is it not for others still half full?

Cannot the optimists bring to their way of thinking a greater proportion of pessimists in order to shift our collective attitude into something more positive?

Or are we doomed to a kind of introverted, self-fulfilling malaise, hanging over us into and beyond the spring of 2022?

Surely burning off this negative fog is where our future leaders will score heavily, be they political, industrial or social.

Last week I had the opportunity to go to the village of Harpole to talk about my career to members of the heritage society there.

It was an appointment that had sat in my diary for a long time and I had wondered, on more than one occasion, if it would actually happen, for obvious reasons.

Thanks to organisations like the Women’s Institute, a variety of clubs and societies and similar community groups, there’s always been quite a circuit for speakers to talk about their subject and I’m certainly not short of an anecdote or two.

Of course, for the past year most of that had come to a grinding half, albeit that some online gatherings did take place.

For me though it’s not the same as being in the physical company of people, mask or no mask.

My audience were warm in their welcome, generous with their time and inquisitive about my subject, which certainly helped me. And as I spoke, I could feel a kind of transformation taking place.

Falling away went the sense of being shut up – locked away – which I had first encountered in early 2020.

Appearing in panto last month had jump-started that process to a degree, but it had been a different kind of professional challenge, playing a kind of cartoon character to successive audiences.

This was me, alone, without any kind of costume and certainly not reading from a prepared script in the familiarity of my studio.

I had to brush up on reading the room, dust off my powers of observation and re-engage with tailoring my comments on the fly, based on whatever the attendees offered me as their reaction.

I loved it, and from their response (nobody walked out), I think my audience stuck with me.

On the way home from the Methodist Church Hall venue, I felt a curious rush of satisfaction combined with the familiarity of something that I had rediscovered, as if it had been hidden away in a vault somewhere.

And that was so good for my own wellbeing.

I have a saying: Everybody has a story that somebody would like to hear. It has never let me down and I utterly believe it.

‘Normality’, as we knew it, might have gone for good, but I see nothing wrong in taking elements of what it previously offered and spinning them up into a new normality.

We are pack animals in the majority, if not highly tribal through our interests and associations.

I suspect there’s a colossal resource of positivity, goodwill and achievement waiting to be tapped as soon as we can reconnect with each other in person.

Doing the right things to achieve that can only be good news ... so what’s your positive next step?