I never buy the weekend papers, but if I'm ever in a coffee shop or other places that leaves them lying about for people to pick at should the mood take them, I will always make a bee line for the Times Magazine.
For there is one particular article within it's pages which never fails to inspire and move me, because it is the ongoing tale of one woman's courage and her triumph (however small) over a tragic accident that has shaped her life, perhaps forever.
Melanie Reid is a columnist with a difference. Over a year ago now, she fell from a horse and broke her neck and back, sustaining terrible spinal damage. I have no idea what she wrote about before this happened, but now her weekly article details her struggle to overcome the damage. There is no forced cheerfulness to her writing. If she's had a terrible week, then by god you know about it; if she is frustrated by the system or by what is happening in the outside world, then she does not shy away from revealing her feelings. Equally, though, she shares the small triumphs and the happy family times that she experiences.
This past Saturday's piece (15th October 2011) was one of the triumphant ones. There is movement to report - tiny, but significant - and her tone is upbeat throughout the article, even though the message she gives on the pace of this improvement is bleak to a reader. 'The received wisdom' (she writes) 'on nerve regrowth is that, if you're going to get any - and not everyone will - it will happen at a rate of about one millimetre a day. Which is about one inch per month. Which puts my feet at least five years away from my neck.'
That's staggering. And the fact she keeps on writing through all the pitfalls and setbacks is equally so.
My one regret is that with the Times requiring a subscription for its website, I can't go and look up all the back issues I have missed. I hope, one day, that someone will think to collate them into a book, for they really are inspirational, and not something people should miss. Now, if all the copies of the magazine disappear from the coffee shops of Oxford, I'll know why!