DONALD Tusk’s view of hell has everyone wondering, what does he mean by “a special place in hell”.

To find out, with clipboard in hand I decided to conduct a street survey in Cockermouth, asking the first 10 people I met the following question: 'What does hell mean to you? Is it an experience or an actual place?"

The road to hell is paved with good intentions. Getting started was proving to be a challenge. Saturday morning was miserable, cold and wet, the Cocker and the Derwent were “up” and hardly anyone was about at 10am.

Should I back off, go home to a warm fire and a cuppa tea?

No, I thought, come hell or high water, I’m staying, it’ll be over in half an hour, I’ll do it for the hell of it. Besides, I’ve told the wife. Wasn’t there something about “hell hath no fury”?.

The first person I meet is Brian. There wasn’t a hope in hell I would chicken out now. I know Brian, everyone knows Brian, he can be my number one, easy-peasy!

His answer nearly blew me away. To Brian, hell was “going through the whole of life, and missing the greatest love of all”. Wow!

Hell-for-leather I moved down Cockermouth’s Main Street and the rest of the survey flew by.

Ten amazing conversations, some brief, some not so brief, among them, two atheists and one devout pagan. Five out of 10 were convinced hell is a real place. No, said the others, life itself is hell, get me out of here!

R. Hall