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Since Donald Trump became POTUS, I have received many emails at my website that were meant for a David Muir of TV news fame in the US. Many of these messages have been highly abusive to Mr Muir. However, a recent email was rather complimentary towards Mr Muir’s coverage of some item of news: I forgot which one. As usual, I emailed the sender to point out that he (it is always a man) had got the wrong David Muir. The sender, let’s call him D., responded and apologised for bothering me. (Most senders of the abusive stuff don’t bother to apologise for sending me unpleasant messages.)

In his response, D said that America is suffering from a rise in populist policies, which have strong undertones of unhealthy beliefs fuelled by hatred, fear and lies: but, it will pass. His final comment was positively encouraging. He had reduced a macro view to a positive micro one of hope and optimism.

It is often the little things that can serve to counter the over-dramatisation of the world that Hans Rosling talks about in his book. For instance, I was walking across Birmingham late one evening recently, after an excellent set by the brilliant Lee Benson and Hugh, his superb percussionist. A group of women, out on the town, passed me by. I happened to be wearing a light-coloured summer suit and a matching summer hat. “All right love?” said one of the group. “Cracking suit.”

A palpable lightness of being put a spring into my step for the rest of the walk to the station to catch a train for home. I find it difficult to put into words how a remark from a complete stranger on a warm summer’s evening made me feel. The best that I can offer is: joyful and light-hearted at what a simple human interaction that lasted a matter of seconds could achieve.

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