As if on cue, Lemn Sissay’s new series for Radio 4 tackles all those questions we would rather ignore in this season of good cheer and overindulgence. He starts out with a programme about homelessness, reminding us that the Christmas story begins with a young unmarried couple, ostracised because she’s pregnant and her current partner is not the father, who are desperately in need of a bed for the night. Cut to 2019 years later.
‘How do you decide how much to give?’ he asks a young woman in his audience who, it turns out, works with a charity for homeless people. ‘Do you ever feel you’ve not given enough?’
‘All the time,’ she replies, to which Sissay responds, quick as a flash, ‘You actually give money and go away and still feel guilty? Why do you give money then?’
Sissay, who grew up in care, was thrown out at 18 and given an empty flat for a home but no furniture, no job and no support, has every right to prick our sensitivities.