Tag Archives: Charity

The Good are Good—The Bad, Frightfully Ugly

26 Feb

As I was born with a charitable nature, all my life I have sought to help those in need. I unselfishly give away the many unwanted gifts I receive each year to local charity shops to help increase their revenue.  I have donated my time to teach underprivileged children to read, offering up copies of my own books to them at an extremely generously reduced cost. I have traveled to faraway countries to help literally build new communities, and I can tell you there is nothing more rewarding than being present while someone christens a new sewer system. I buy a new poppy every single year, and I have no qualms about telling other shoppers in the queue at Sainsbury’s to shut the hell up if we happen to be waiting together  at eleven on Remembrance Day. I do these things not so I can then brag about them during lectures to the WI or on this very website. I do them because frankly that is just my nature: there’s no two ways about it, I am a good person.

Alas, we good people are becoming few and far between these days.  I don’t want to seem overly moralistic here, because I am aware that good people sometimes do bad things and that being bad once doesn’t necessarily make one a bad person. I do not believe in unfairly judging people.

At the same time, though, people seem to be up to some real evil-doing these days.  I’m dismayed by the crimes of all natures which I read about in the papers and the stupid choices politicians around the world seem to be making. Even in my own village, I witness my neighbour leaving his dog in his back garden all night, despite the cold and horrendous noises the creature makes and let’s not forget about the dressmaker who not only delayed the delivery of a dress by six days but when said dress was delivered, it clearly fell three inches below the owner’s knee as opposed to the two inches that had been requested.

bad peopleCan we really say that these are simply “bad acts” and not “bad people”? No. I think it’s high time we stand up and call a spade a shovel.

It used to be that those of us who were good were the norm; the bad people were a minority group easily identified by that evil little glint in their eye (and their tendency to drink publicly from bottles in paper bags). Those simple times are no more. Therefore, I have devised a quick test to determine where each of us stands.

Firstly, readers, I ask that you yourselves complete this straight forward assessment; you never know, you might actually be a bad person who is just so good at being bad that you have in fact fooled even yourself. You may then want to pass this out to those you come into contact with (especially those with whom you do financial or sexual trade). It is a simple way to separate the wheat from the chaff.

1. If you were angry with the woman who lived next door to you, would you:

a. Beat her with a shovel and bury her behind the shed before you went through her home, snatching anything that looked like it might be of value on the black market.

b. Complain about her loudly to both the postman and the woman who lives across the lane.

c. Paint a rude symbol on the pavement in front of her house.

d. Think to yourself, seeing as how she is an internationally famous writer and the highlight of your life is watching Countdown each day, perhaps she was right about it being your responsibility to maintain the creosote on the fence.

2. If you worked at a bank and a woman came in wanting to exchange her collection of two pound coins for newer, shinier two pound coins, would you:

a. Throw the bag of coins in her face, bruising her delicately rouged cheeks.

b. Point out to her that it is midday and the bank is very full of customers whose needs are apparently more important than hers.

c. Close your window.

d. Meet her request because it is nice to see someone who appreciates the aesthetic as well as monetary value of Her Royal Majesty’s mint.

3. If you lived in a small village and had a son or daughter under the age of sixteen, would you:

a. Feel comfortable allowing your child to enter the local shop without your own personal supervision.

b. Grant your child the privilege of riding a scooter, skateboard or public transport through the village.

c. Permit your child to call any adult by their Christian name.

d. Teach the kid to mind their manners and keep the hell away from my hydrangea.

Clearly, if you answered anything other than d, you are a bad person. The facts speak for themselves. Do some soul-searching and if you can’t manage to be rehabilitated and come over to the good side, please book into a prison immediately and get yourself the help you need.

Something Funny For Your Money

18 Mar

I’ve never really understood the cynicism around Comic Relief and Red Nose Day.

Maybe this is because I grew up in America where charity telethons’ goal was twofold: to encourage you to donate money and to drive you to the brink of insanity. The most famous, of course, is the Jerry Lewis MDA Supershow, which features said Jerry Lewis (bad enough) and lots of people you don’t recognise, thought had died a decade before or actively despise singing and dancing on stage in front of a big band for twenty-two hours straight. Because the telethon dominates Labor Day weekend, the unofficial end of summer, millions of children who otherwise would never consider bullying begin resenting disabled kids whom they blame for ruining their last weekend before the school year starts.

Comic Relief, though, is different, and I’d like to address the naysayers now.

A lot of people are nasty about rich celebrities going on about helping poor people.  In fact, I remember the day Richard Curtis first pitched the idea of Comic Relief to me over lunch. He said, “Agatha, I was thinking about getting celebrities together to do a charity event—I’m thinking Sting, Madonna, U2, singing on stage while the public phones in with donations.” I said to him, “Dickie, let’s face it, Bono’s small change alone could solve all of the world’s problems. If you want the public to be able to forget that, you’ve got to make people laugh.”

And Comic Relief does that.  I’m sure we’ve all got our favourites—Alan Partridge, Ricky Gervais and Robert Webb spring to my mind.  Of course, not everything works: sometimes Paul Daniels can’t milk Eddie the Eagle’s elbow, sometimes Ruby Wax sings and sometimes Jeremy Clarkson’s face appears on screen. But overall, there’s quite a bit there that is cleverly funny.

In contrast, the video reports from the places Comic Relief supports are not funny, but aren’t supposed to be. They are generally quite moving and informative.  When I hear people complain about the short films, I want to kick them in the shins (and, when I can, I do). The purpose of those videos is to help us feel the despair of those suffering.  Jamie Oliver in Africa should be painful to watch and it consistently is. If you really hate these clips so much, donate enough money and there will be nothing left to film.

Lastly, Comic Relief celebrates not just the humour of the professional funny people, but the average person as well. Seriously, how can we hold anything against the institution which catapulted the bath of baked beans into our consciousness? Is there anything funnier than a person sitting in a bath of baked beans? The answer is no.

I am doing my part. You should do yours. On Red Nose Day, don’t be unpleasant.  Donate your fiver.

Reflections on The Year 2009 Thus Far

26 Jun

As the month of June draws to a close, I realise how much has changed in 2009 already. We are now half way through the year, little birdies, and I suggest we all take this time to reflect on how we have helped make our world a better place in the last six months. Remember, while many believe that no man is an island, I feel that it’s more helpful to acknowledge that, while we are each individually islands, we all make up part of the Channel Islands and therefore bear the responsibility of keeping our shorelines clear of rubbish, our children’s homes free of unmarked graves, our governments guided by freedom and democracy and our carbon footprints as dainty as possible. Otherwise, we can negatively affect the entire world, particularly the whelk population (and goodness knows how that would influence prices at our local chippy).

I note many of us have already done so much. Some of us are doing our best to keep the promises we made on the campaign trail. Some of us are helping the environment by providing darling duck houses and muck-free moats. Some of us are avoiding further debt by dramatically dying on the eve of a fifty-night tour we knew we were unlikely to complete. Some of us are going so far as rescuing children from their families and homelands purely because we are so certain our lifestyles would be preferable to them. While not all of us can achieve such acts of courage and self-sacrifice, as Marks and Spencer says, “Every little bit helps!”

To provide you with a guideline for your self-reflection, I have listed below the ways in which I have humbly attempted to help humanity so far this year.

1. Socially
On a global level, my contribution to society is unparalleled. As you know my social calendar is rarely empty. My primary motivation for this is because I am well aware that my presence at social events provides others with inspiration, one of the greatest gifts anyone can give in our quotidian, humdrum world.
On a more personal level, I rang my mother on Mothering Sunday, despite the fact that doing so put me in a foul mood for the rest of the day, and I continue to support Christopher in all of his creative endeavours, most recently encouraging his newfound interest in Greco-Roman wrestling.

2. Environmentally
I have recently had to change the birdseed I put out in my feeders as my previous brand is no longer being stocked at my local shop. The birds seem to enjoy this new food immensely. Chalk up yet another eco-system improved by me.

3. Financially
We are all suffering in the current financial climate, charitable organisations even more so.  Although I prefer to keep these contributions as anonymous as possible, I must confess to recently making a rather large financial donation to a well-respected charity in exchange for a large consignment of left-over chocolate oranges which I intend to distribute to admirers overseas this Yuletide.

4. Politically
Every time I dine with our MP, I insist upon leaving the gratuity thereby relieving my Right Honorable friend of any temptation to inappropriately fiddle with his expenses.

5. Creatively
Of course, as I have done every year of my adult life, I painstakingly continue to improve the world of art and literature through my copious amount of publications.  This year, however, I have gone even a step further by conquering the Internet and therefore reaching readers who may previously had been unable to afford to frequent the types of shops which sell my books (they don’t come cheap, I can tell you). While inevitably this means a loss of income to me personally, I am prepared to make this sacrifice as I care more about the world as a whole than I do my bankbook and besides a few hundred pounds here and there means nothing to someone of my substantial wealth.

Dear readers, I beg you to please take this opportunity to reflect on your own contributions to the world in 2009 thus far. By acknowledging your previous accomplishments, you will be able to plan how you can continue to do good for the latter half of the year. Keep the list limited to one side of A4 paper though as being too self-congratulatory makes one appear frightfully unattractive.

Each of you, regardless of your insignificance, must matter in some way to the world. I can at least confirm you matter a little bit to one Miss Agatha Whitt-Wellington!