I WAS sorry to see the reader's letter, Ripped Off by a Good Samaritan, in the Gazette on September 1, about a man who pretended to help her but stole her handbag instead.
The heading made me remember how I loved the Good Samaritan story when I was a child. Later, as a drama teacher, the 'helping a stranger' scenario was a favourite with my pupils - alongside being stuck in a lift with a variety of eccentrics.
Children acting out the New Testament parable threw themselves into playing the mugged man lying in the gutter, of course particularly enjoying the struggle that preceded it.
When they swapped roles and played the Samaritan who helped the 'foreigner', they enjoyed it even more. It made them feel good.
Drama is a great way to experience empathy. We can burrow into the skins of others and feel emotions we didn't know we had.
Children working in pairs can play young and old, disabled and able-bodied, parent and child, bully and victim. It is of course only play-acting, but these roles, when swapped, always make them think.
Children now find their morality in stories such as Harry Potter, where the young protagonists set out to rout evil and help others, but religion still has its place, and not only in Christianity. Sikhs, for instance, are required to 'care for others and share their grief'.
In the 21st century it would be useful to try to imagine what it feels like to be a stranger in a new country, particularly refugees who've suffered terrible experiences in their homeland.
We have always been a warm, sheltering nation - who can forget the welcome we gave the Vietnamese boat people in the 1970s? - and has nothing to do with current debates about economic migrants.
I hope we never lose our ability to be Good Samaritans; I also hope the man in the reader's letter, who pretended to be one, gets his comeuppance one day. * I'd like to wish a happy birthday to the world's oldest hot cross bun - 189 this year.
The bun, inscribed 1821 on its base, is owned by a 91-year-old in Lincolnshire who has preserved it as a family heirloom. The currants have disintegrated but it still smells fresh. What a great tale in this sell-by-date, health and safety obsessed era!