Call me prickly -- but people cannot be paid for doing nothing
Hedgehogs certainly know a thing or two about making the most of life's opportunities. They work hard when times are good in summer and build up reserves of fat so their bodies are in top shape.
Then, when autumn arrives and the going gets tough, they find a warm spot, curl up and go to sleep until the following spring brings fresh food and warmth.
Now wouldn't it be lovely to shred the bills and the letters from the bank, use them as bedding, lock all the doors and switch off the lights and wait for better times. No more listening to Joe Duffy or Brian Dobson. No tales of woe from economists and politicians. No awful newspaper headlines. Just blissful sleep and forgetfulness throughout the winter.
Unfortunately, unlike the hedgehog, we are rarely satisfied to sit back, relax and accept things as they are. Most of us are driven by that niggling feeling that there is always room to make things better. It's simply part of the human condition.
While battling with last month's ice and snow, I kept thinking of the hedgehog, curled up in its cosy bed of leaves, blissfully unaware of draconian budgets and the woes of the world.
Some of our most-renowned thinkers, saints and philosophers made the decision to shun the working world and lived lives of relative poverty, unencumbered by the worries of commerce. They spent their time meditating, writing, researching, and giving their minds full freedom to ponder on the mysteries of life and the endless human search for peace. Maybe this is all too deep and esoteric a thought for a cold January day and perhaps, in the end, it just comes back to the hedgehog and how some people manage to live full and inspirational lives without looking for much more for themselves than will meet their most basic needs.
The rest of us have to soldier on, otherwise there would be less tax paid and not enough income made to help those who cannot support themselves.
It was truly disturbing to see on TV before Christmas the hardship experienced by some of the people affected by welfare cuts. What the politicians ignore, however, and the media never seem to mention, is the thousands of fit and healthy young men and women who we pay weekly to do nothing. Surely they could have been out shoveling snow off footpaths and generally helping the elderly and infirm to get through the freeze.