One of the highlights of my year is to spend a few days with my brother Paul and his wife in Clapham. On a Tuesday in October Paul and I set out to explore the Highgate and Hampstead area of North London. In Waterlow Park near Highgate Cemetery we met a very nice lady with two children who hoped we enjoyed our walk. People were friendly all day. A little later another buxom female, observing me consulting my map, offered to conduct us to Karl Marx's tomb - an offer we declined!

Hampstead Heath was a very attractive. The view from Kenwood House over sloping lawns to the ornamental lakes was splendid. A ragged crocodile of primary school children wended their way through the woods. At the rear a Thai lady walked with her daughter. She tripped on a tree root and sprained her ankle. It was not long before she was consoled by a teacher and group of anxious children. Before leaving the Heath we chatted with a man exercising 10 assorted dogs. He was a professional dog walker. I was amazed at how well his charges behaved.

Hampstead is an old spa town. We found a drinking fountain on the site of the chalybeate spring upon which the spa was based and drank from the iron-rich water. Hampstead hardly seemed part of London. It was very hilly, verdant with numerous mature trees and a confusion of narrow roads and alleys. Paul and I had lunch at the King William IV pub. The barman was very apologetic about keeping us waiting. The meal was worth the wait - crisp chips, salad and a tasty steak and kidney pie.

In the afternoon we caught a bus to Chalk Farm and walked to Primrose Hill. A pretty coloured girl caught my eye as she opened the door of a coffee shop. I smiled. She smiled back and called out, "Hiyah." From Primrose Hill there was a splendid view over the city.

Finally, footsore and weary, my brother and I sat down for refreshments in Regents Park. The small, cheerful Portuguese woman who served us reminded me of a shiny horse chestnut. It was a treat to sit in the hazy sunshine and watch the people walk by. A young mother pushed her toddler into crowds of pigeons for the pleasure of hearing him laugh with glee as they panicked and scattered.

As we walked home from Stockwell tube station a black woman and her two pretty daughters were making slow progress back from school. The little girls were swinging from railings and singing. They were as happy as larks on a fine spring morning.

Surely there is nothing so terribly wrong with our world. Surely God, himself, must have smiled at some of the incidents we witnessed. But there is one event I have omitted. That morning we left Clapham North station for Archway in a very crowded, stuffy train. It wasn't long before a dark-haired, drawn-faced, youngish man burst into our carriage. He was selling the Big Issue. The young fellow was in a terrible state. He had just been sworn at and he took his anger out on us. For two or three minutes he harangued us bitterly. His burning resentment was all too evident as he accused us of not looking at him, not caring that he slept rough or did his best to earn an honest living by selling the Big Issue. His tirade was met with a sullen silence. He was ignored. No-one offered to buy a magazine. Eventually to everyone's relief he stormed out of the carriage.

I said to my brother afterwards, "That's no way to sell the Big Issue. He antagonised us all. If he had been pleasant and agreeable ...... ." I thought a lot about that young man during the day. It dawned on me that he needed grace. Nobody showed him grace. I didn't show him grace. Why didn't I buy a magazine? I could have made him happier and restored his faith in human nature.

When Almighty God looks on the world of men he sees that we are spoilt. We can all be quite as unlovely as that overwrought vagrant on the Northern Line. God shows us grace. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans5v8. God shows us such grace - why can't we show more grace to others?