NO ONE can deny I am an optimist – surely belief that Huddersfield Town will one day win the European Champions League is proof. But forces appear at work to deflate me.

Every New Year’s Eve, I ask the Great MD in the Sky to make the next 365 days (or 366 where appropriate) better and more peaceful than the previous ones. In recent years I could be forgiven for thinking he was not taking calls.

To bomb or not to bomb – that has been the question of the week, if not the decade. Parliament took the decision on Wednesday night to bomb ISIS strongholds in Syria. Now we can only wait and see.

With fanatical ISIS determined to prove terror, mass murder and suicide assures celestial martyrdom, while most of our allies believe direct military action is the only option, with 28 days to go, prospects for a better 2016 seem gloomy.

BUT I was determined to embrace something of the brighter side of life. The opportunity came from Witney’s Eric and Abigail, both 81, married for 63 years (childhood sweethearts, eh?) and shopping for each other’s Christmas presents.

“There’s nothing wrong with a warm, thick pullover. Thousands would be glad of it,” said a purse-lipped, Abigail holding up the intended garment in Primark men’s department.

“Perhaps,” replied Eric, “but most of ‘em wouldn’t want a b***** knitted reindeer’s head and holly on it.”

“You’re so miserable these days,” she complained.

The occasion was saved by the grinning lover boy planting a wet kiss on her cheek.

IT was the interval of the Playhouse morning performance of Aladdin. Infant schoolchildren were ‘answering the call of nature’, and heading in lines to and from the lavatories. Teachers and helpers were keeping a close watch.

But there’s always one. Ginger haired and with a face covered in freckles and mischief, he dodged behind a sales desk. ‘Miss’ was counting. One short she quickly headed back to the loo.

“Is she there?” he asked wide-eyed. I gave the thumbs up which prompted him to dash back into the auditorium.

Teacher returned looking confused. I suggested she return to her group; she might have miscounted. Anything to prevent her wrath descending on young ginger nut.

PERHAPS it was cruel to smirk when the straight faced, mincing teenager wobbled on her much-too-high heels and dropped her mobile phone which was attached by wires to her ears, causing pain as well as embarrassment.

“Ouch!” was her all-embracing reaction, followed by an expletive. Twenty-eight days, eh? Optimism recharged.