Jo Cox

Had this been a different kind of a day, right now I'd be driving you all to distraction with relentless plugs for an article on the ridiculous ITV children's programme The Mersey Pirate. It's more or less done, to be honest with you, but I haven't felt like writing those last couple of sentences and shuffling the images around. I haven't felt like hitting the 'Publish' button. And I'm fairly sure most if not all of you wouldn't have felt like reading it. The screengrabs of Echo And The Bunnymen and jokes about Billy Butler being washed overboard mid-broadcast can wait.

Jo Cox was only a couple of weeks younger than me. Our lives went in very, very different directions, and while she might well have seen The Mersey Pirate, she certainly did something more useful and worthwhile with her time afterwards. We don't know yet why her life was cut so brutally and senselessly short, and to be honest we may never really know. Situations like this are not exactly noted for their clear-cut logical explanations. But while the true extent of its influence is open to question, the uncomfortable and unsettling truth of the matter is that this has come in the absolute eye of the storm of a nasty and troubling time.

We live in a culture where escalating threats are common currency and nobody does anything. And yet we all feed into it, and none of us does anywhere near enough to stop it. Public figures, notably Lily Allen, have told some pretty alarming stories recently, though it's worth me sticking my head above the parapet and saying that I've had threats - on one occasion through the post to my home address - on the basis of things that I've written on here. I'm nobody. And I venture non-opinions on subjects that I'm quite proud to say don't matter. Think about that for a minute. We - and that's literally we, all of us - have created a situation where it's quite acceptable to focus your hatred, frustration and anger on an individual who you've never met and has done nothing to you, for no other reason than that they happen to be in your line of vision. And we all stir and amplify this in so many seemingly inoffensive ways, whether it's hurling abuse at politicians or vilifying reality show contestants. A sad inevitability that this should spill out into reality in so tragic and horrific and pointless a way. Kenny Everett, aware that he was terminally ill, once reflected how easy it is to make others into a "receptacle for your spare hatred" and we'd do well to think on that occasionally.

A while back, for a number of reasons, I decided that I'd had quite enough of contributing to it myself and resolved to try and do something more positive whenever I started tapping out words on a keyboard. To tell upbeat stories of achievement and innovation, to find good things to say about bad television, to defend the 'bullied' in popular culture. Hence Higher Than The Sun, hence Skiboy, hence trying against almost insurmountable odds to find - and then finding - a reason to challenge the widely-held view of Pip and Jane Baker's writing career. Hence what someone recently described as 'going soft' on social media. Hence, well, giving the benefit of the doubt to The Mersey Pirate. True, someone will probably now dig out some tweet where I'm snarky about Philip Morris, or some disparaging reference on here that they take exception to, but that's the whole point. Not one of us is above this and we all need to try harder.

And yes, I am making this 'all about me'. Because it's all about all of us. It's rampant and unchecked, and we are all responsible and need to take that responsibility. So... be nice about something or to someone, won't you? It all goes a long way.