Thursday, 5 May 2005

Sod the Children

Save the Children

As I looked into the mirror this morning, I saw the faces of the children I’d left behind. They were no longer smiling and laughing; their once happy countenances were now forlorn and sorrowful. Horrified by this spectacle of abandonment and, with feelings of shame washing over me, I was forced to turn away. My selfish actions had ruined everything.

On a pleasurable jaunt through Nottingham city centre in the midday sunshine, I was waylaid by an earnest looking woman armed with a clipboard. She had long flowing blonde hair, and large eyes that seemed out of proportion to the rest of her face, she reminded me rather of a rabbit with myxomatosis. ‘Do you mind if I ask you a few questions?’ she said, and I decided that, for once, I wouldn’t rush past and ignore her. ‘Sure, why not’ I said, deciding on reflection that I had nothing better to do. She then told me a heart-wrenching story about some village in the Sudan -or some other god-forsaken sun baked wilderness- that had no water supply, forcing the inhabitants to walk over miles of desert every day for a cup of moisture. The settlement was on the brink of starvation, until at the last minute, a British charity had stepped in and rescued them. Two thoughts occurred to me at this juncture, why the heck would anyone build a village out in the desert with no water supply in the first place?, I should have thought it was a necessary pre-requisite. Secondly, what did all this have to do with me?. I could sense I was getting drawn into a ‘guilt ambush’, but it was too late, I would just have to ride the blows as they came. ‘Anyway, if I could just have your bank details, then we could set up a direct debit to Save the Children’. I retreated in horror, how had it come to this?. ‘Its only 70p a day’ she proclaimed reproachfully, seeing that I was trying to slip away from her grasp. A surge of guilt came over me, had I not just spent £1 that morning on a short bus ride when I could just as easily have walked?, had I not spent a tenner last weekend getting sloshed in ‘The Orange Tree’. Moments later I found myself filling out a purple form and signing away my hard squandered wealth on starving African children. ‘Thankyou so much’ the wide-eyed lady beamed at me, and I continued on my merry way.

Two weeks later I signed up to Internet banking and inspected my accounts. The direct debit had not yet came into effect and was sitting there in my ‘transfers section’. ‘SAVE THE CHILDREN’ it read, but to me it seemed like a big bloodsucking leech, sipping away on my bank statement. £15 pound a month, £180 a year…. I reflected on what other uses I could put that cash to, and my mind turned to an image of me and Katie sitting in the beer garden of ‘Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem’ holding pints of real ale –the very image of happiness. My inner cutthroat capitalist had spoken, and I quickly purged my account of the evil presence. Later on, I imagined a throng of Somali children sitting at the side of the road, waiting expectantly for the help that never came. Slowly they realised that they had been deserted in their hour of need, and trudged off miserably back to their mud huts and an uncertain future.

It’s a terrible shame, but I’m no longer in a position to give handouts to charity, Bill Gates I am not. Save the children is all very well, but feeding the fiancé is far more important.

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