One of the problems, or so it seems to me, of our modern age is that things can seem so close at hand while being so far away.
The news of events that happen far away once took months to reach us but today streaming images allow us to share the picture, though not the adrenaline rush, of actually being there.
I don't know whether you watched the Syria Debate on the BBC Parliament Channel, but I did. I've never been to Syria although its history has always interested me for many reasons not least of which is that it is the meeting place of the three great Abrahamic traditions.
A few years ago that interest was heightened by acting as a business mentor for a lovely man who imported floating soap from Aleppo in Northern Syria. From Alan I gathered huge amounts of current information about this intriguing country and its diverse population.
Two of our local MPs didn't vote with the Government and I listened to their balanced arguments. It was brave of Sarah Wollaston and Anne Marie Morris to stand against the PM on this issue. Adrian Sanders was in South Africa and couldn't return for the vote.
Whatever the eventual outcome of this conflict, what is happening is a great sadness and, as always, it tends to be the innocent who get hit the hardest. Of course in the minds of many will be the dreadful consequences of Iraq and Afghanistan.
It is not my place to offer an opinion on Syria and I have no right really to do so here. What I do want to say is that it is the duty of all of us to be aware of what is happening at home and away. It is all too easy to let the streaming images pass before our eyes as a sort of fiction. Perhaps we see it as something that doesn't really concern us or as something that we would rather not acknowledge.
Both Sarah Wollaston and Anne Marie Morris said that they had listened to the voice of their constituents and voted accordingly. Too often those we elect follow the party whips and vote as requested by political leaders. That has its place, of course, otherwise things would move very slowly. But there are times of conscience and common sense, or so it seems to me.
Tell me, do you make your views known to members of parliament and local councillors? When the time comes to vote do you join the queue and select the person that you want to represent your community locally and nationally? Hmm.
Meanwhile here in South Devon the shadows lengthen and the sun heads south after a simply wonderful summer. After six successive soggy summers this has been a real tonic. The boost to the local economy has been huge and many beleaguered tourists businesses have been buoyed at last by wall to wall sunshine. I live not too far from the beach in Paignton and listening to the laughter from the crowded seashore has been a tonic. Although I am writing this wearing a pair of old board shorts I am aware that winter is just around the corner.
I don't know about you but I am battered on a daily basis, or so it seems, by telephone calls offering me cheap energy prices, free boilers, cavity insulation, loft insulation, solar panels, energy assessments and goodness knows what else. It's mind blowing, confusing and potentially very expensive when you find that what you thought you were getting didn't turn out to quite what was expected as many folk have found when they have attempted to sell a house that had free solar panels fitted. You can, therefore, imagine my joy when I went to visit the new South West Energy Centre which has opened just off the Brixham Road near South Devon College.
I spent a morning looking around this wonderful £5.6 million development with Paddy McNevin.
Paddy is the man at the sharp end and featured in last week's Herald Express business section. I've known Paddy for a number of years and his intriguing soft Irish accent always warms my spirit. I was completely captivated by the new South West Energy Centre and really think that it is a stunning community asset.
Now the nice thing, for me and I suspect for you, is that the SWEC staff are not selling a product or pushing a contract into your unwilling hands.
Their mission is to make us all more aware of what we can do to be energy smart.
As Paddy says "It's about behaviour change and making people think about the energy they use. Little things like not filling the kettle when you only want one small cup of coffee."
Almost everything about the SWEC underlines that simple message. So before you sign up to anything to do with energy and fuel go and see these folk and be educated! That way your eventual decision will be a balanced one.
One feature of the SWEC that really captivated me was the wonderful little Passivhaus. What is a Passivhaus?
Well I think that you need to visit and see for yourself but as a taste I can tell you that Paddy says "Passivhaus buildings achieve a 75 per cent reduction in space heating requirements compared to standard construction for new UK buildings." That is amazing.
While drifting around the building something else came up in conversation that bothered me. That worry was a passing comment about more and more people falling into fuel poverty. Terms like fuel poverty slip all too easily from the tongue and can mask huge social problems.
Sitting here on a warm late summer morning the cold winter days seem so far away. But then I suddenly remember the horror of my gas bill arriving after a particularly cold period last winter. That's made me shiver.
Keep the smile!