A recent newspaper article about the missing little girl, Madeleine McCann, has reminded me how easy it can be to form opinions on the basis of what might be entirely inappropriate assumptions founded on preconceived - and, often biased - notions.
Certainly, from my own point of view, and I'm not especially proud to say this, I was guilty of acting as judge and jury almost as soon as she disappeared. Equally - or, perhaps, more alarmingly - my opinions changed from time to time based on the reports being put about at the time.
For example, when the news broke, even though I was born in the city, the fact that the parents (or, at least, one of them) was from Liverpool created an opinion which was somewhat less than complimentary. Furthermore, when it became known that they had left all three of their children alone in their apartment whilst they were out wining and dining only added to a sense of despair. Paradoxically, however, when it transpired that both parents were doctors, for reasons I would be hard-pressed to explain (or justify) the feeling of disgust mysteriously diminished.
Subsequently, as the years have passed, I've been unable to form a definite opinion of what may have happened. It's only a personal impression and I may be in a minority, but I find it difficult to be fully sympathetic towards the parents because I can't ignore a nagging suspicion that they know more than they're prepared to admit. Furthermore, the curmudgeon in me makes it almost impossible to understand why caring parents would allow a child as young as Madeleine was, at the time, to wear what appears to be eye shadow.