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Bury St Edmunds columnist Micael Apichella offers a cup of cheer

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Recently, I selected 21 of my most popular columns and edited them into a book called A Light Shines in Bury. I’m selling it to raise money for St Nicholas Hospice, here in Bury.

The people in my book are folk you may know, not because they’re bishops, councillors, or mayors (though Patrick Chung, former Mayor of St Edmundsbury, is named).

They’re shop owners, sanitation workers, waiters, buskers, men-and-women in the street. Basically your neighbours and mine.

Michael pictured with Miranda McCoy, St Nicholas Hospice Care community fund-raiser
Michael pictured with Miranda McCoy, St Nicholas Hospice Care community fund-raiser

I was delighted when this paper and St Nicholas Hospice got on board, giving the book publicity. Happily, many individuals and businesses agreed to sell copies, too.

Here’s a big thanks to David Lynch of David’s Barbers, George and Annette Stanford of the Really-Rather-Good coffee and tea shop, the Rev Robert Green of Garland Street Baptist Church, Robert Todd, businessman, Richard Summers, man- about-town (how else can you describe him? His CV is five pages long!) John Young, talented local musician, and last, but not least, Carla Carlisle, owner of Wyken Vineyard, and Steve and Joanna Knight, co-owners of Reallyverynice Art Gallery.

I saved them for last because in addition to selling the books, they very generously reached into their pockets and gave their own gifts of money, too. Merci!

While I’m at it, I don’t know the individual personally, but when I collected the sales receipts and money from the Stanfords, they told me a customer came in and, while not buying the book, asked if she could give a gift towards supporting the charity.

The lady promptly chipped in 70p. I was so touched by this. Talk about the gift of the Widow’s Mite (Luke 21:1-4)! I’m pleased to say, so far, we’ve raised over £400 and 70p.

Studies show that being around smiling people combats sickness and depression

“A Light Shines in Bury” is still available at St Nicholas Hospice reception at the West Suffolk Hospital, as well as at the Bury Free Press reception. Priced at £8, proceeds all go to the hospice. Hurry and buy a few for friends while supplies last. If you read this column regularly, it’s no secret. Bury St Edmunds is like oxygen in my lungs, inspiring my work the way Paris, London or New York inspired many other writers. I even hatched my Bury-based novel The Chronicles of Johnny Pilgrim over coffee in town.

Oh, I’m not putting myself in the same league as Andrew Marr, Jeremy Clarkson or Jilly Cooper. Nevertheless, give me coffee, a dry spot in the sun, and a bran muffin, and the writing ideas come to me like fleas on a barnyard cat.

That said, I’d be remiss if I didn’t admit how the waiters and waitresses who serve us help me out. The friendlier they are, the more material I find about which to write.

No kidding. A cup of joe and a grin is good science. Did you know the guys and gals who serve us our java are every bit as effective as GPs and psychiatrists when it comes to our mental and physical health?

According to many independent studies, drinking coffee in moderation helps prevent diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, liver disease, cancer, and heart disease.

So where do the servers come in? Other studies show that being around smiling people combats sickness and depression, because friendly people produce oxytocin and vasopressin – two hormones in your body stimulating feelings of generosity, love and health.

Since this is so, our servers ought to earn as much as their colleagues in the NHS. As they don’t, today, after you’ve had your friendly cup of cheer, dig deeply and give your server a big tip. Meantime, drink more coffee, smile more and prosper!