In London and New York the taxi drivers have a reputation for offering advice, even when it is uncalled for. Ask them anything you like; politics, a topical moral issue, business, football or even show business and they’ll give you their opinion. What’s more they’ll often back it up with “I had that Gordon Brown (or any other name that fits) in the back of my cab the other day and you know what he told me?……”

So let me introduce you to Sonia. Sonia is my pedicurist. (I have a toe that regularly causes me aggravation and once every few months needs her attention). I went to her this week, I hadn’t seen her since the funeral of her husband back in the Summer. Sonia is a positive soul and just like taxi drivers, she always has something to say. And so it was of no surprise that during my treatment Sonia took it upon her self to give me some advice for 2009. She told me that the number nine is a very solitary number and that because in 2009 it is accompanied by two zeros only enhances that fact. According to Sonia 2009 is going to be a very difficult year. “It will be a time to look forward” she said. “It will be an individual journey for everyone. Don’t look back, the past is the past and is not the same as now, what applied yesterday does not apply any more. When people look backwards, they tend to fall over. Don’t be afraid, find your own path, your journey will be enriching and from it you will enrich the lives of others.”

When Sonia says something, it’s a bit like listening to the advice of a wise aunt. You know you have to stay polite and to listen and yet, almost annoyingly, there is something to be taken from what she says. I know better now than to question – my cynical brain goes into standby mode and I accept what I hear as an uncompromised view on things – a message driven from spirituality, rather than logic. After all what do we business leaders, politicians, lawyers, and teachers know any more than Sonia about the future? If we are all as clever as we like to think we are, how come we are where we are and not in some other place or situation?

In less than half an hour, I had received treatment for my toe, nutrition for my head and a hot cup of coffee, and all for less than twenty Euros! Despite the icy steps that lead down from her door, I left with a new spring in my step, feeling confident and ready to face anything that comes my way.