There was a trial in England recently of two men who killed a soldier...he suffered an appalling death in broad daylight in the middle of a busy road in London. The murderers, who were armed with a machete and knives and an imitation gun, ranted at the people standing there in horror.
A couple of women went to the dead soldier and sat down beside him in the middle of the road...stroking his head and holding his hand, while the murderers, their hands covered in blood, shouted and waved their weapons about until the Police arrived.
I've been thinking about those women a great deal recently...just ordinary women who happened to be there at the time, they risked their own lives to give some measure of comfort to a total stranger at the time of his death...while two men, covered in blood and armed with deadly weapons, gave them a garbled and incoherent account of why they'd committed the act.
Some years ago when the Troubles in Northern Ireland were at their height two British soldiers strayed into a funeral procession...they were dragged from their car and beaten to death by the crowd. A lone priest pushed through the rabble and knelt beside the dying men...giving them the Last Rites...providing them with the comfort of another human beings presence as they died.
The photograph of that brave priest...his face contorted with pure horror and rage as he berated the crowd milling round him, is now considered to be an iconic image of the savagery of those dreadful days.
He could have slipped away and simply pretended he hadn't seen anything untoward...those women could have run away or rushed into a nearby shop. But they didn't.
I wonder what went through their heads...were they simply so enraged that they didn't think...was it an act of bravery for that priest to shove and push his way through a crowd of men out of their heads with a kind of bloodlust...
There will be very few of us who are faced with a situation like either of those I've written about...we lead quiet enough lives in quiet enough places...we cannot visualise perhaps how we would react under the same circumstances because everyone behaves in differing ways.
I'd like to think I'd sit in an ever spreading pool of a dying mans blood to let him know he was not alone while two madmen raved and ranted within feet of me...I'd hope to have the courage to barge through an angry crowd to give some comfort to dying strangers.
But I'm not sure whether I'd be brave enough.