'Charity begins at home' says our resident curmudgeon Adam Edwards
PUBLISHED: 10:10 27 January 2014 | UPDATED: 10:17 27 January 2014
Resident curmudgeon Adam Edwards says he’s no longer prepared to pay for an exercise freak to sprint around Cirencester in order, in all probability, to furnish a foreign dictator’s palace. Here’s why...
February is the start of the money-subbing season. It is the time of year when Goody Two Shoes demand monies from the Bone-Idle Feet-On-A-Bar-Stool shoes such as me. It is the month when those who like to run, skip and jump expect those of us of a sedentary disposition to also ‘dig deep’. From now until the early summer the zealots will prey upon the indolent to sponsor some form of testosterone buffoonery in the name of charity.
The first request for dosh has already arrived on my doorstep. I have been asked to sponsor the daughter of a wealthy lawyer to run the Cirencester Mile. The puppy fat girl wishes me to give her a tenner if she manages to cover 1,760 yards in and around the Cirencester Agricultural College on March 21 in aid of Sport Relief. I, cynically, presume the doe-eyed chubby chops wishes to lose a couple of pounds as much as she wishes to “help people overcome inequality and have a say in decisions that affect their lives whoever and wherever they are”. And I would also bet a Bengal tiger to a culled badger that some of the dollars I part with go towards a quarter pounder with cheese.
If Sports Relief were a one-off I might give my 200 shillings more readily but it is not. Before it there is Red Nose Day or Comic Relief, the charity that last year was revealed by BBC’s Panorama to invest much of its (our) monies in cigarettes and alcohol, which expects the public to pay people to look daft while exercising. And then there are the marathon runners we finance to pad around our city streets and the students trekking to Machu Picchu and cyclists wheeling to John O’Groats and, oh dear, a score more worthies being worthy who want our money.
It is the new religion. Many years ago we went to church and put a few bob in the collection tin to pay for missionary work in an obscure country nobody had heard of or would wish to visit. Nowadays we skip the boring Sunday service and salve our conscience by giving a few quid to somebody to exercise for us in aid of a Third World Country.
But it is neither the money nor the virtue of the charity that rankles. Quite the reverse – the rich should help the poor. Most modern charities are worthy of our support and as far as I know – transparency not being their strong suit – do an excellent job. We should give to them and as a nation we are extraordinarily generous to those less fortunate than ourselves. It is not the giving that is trying but rather the sanctimonious smugness of those who raise the funds.
Most people who run a marathon, for example, wish to do so anyway. They like exercise. They think it is good for them and a way of proving their worth to themselves and others. The same applies to those who canoe down the Thames, swim the Channel or climb Mount Kilimanjaro. But now those taking part in such activities have an added incentive to do so. Instead of being viewed as they once were as boring, socially inadequate geeks in shorts and plimsolls mucking about when they could be doing something useful, they have been transmogrified into selfless benefactors labouring ‘For Charity’.
Of course if these people really wished to do charitable work rather than parade about in Lycra then perhaps they could harness their love of keeping fit to achieve something useful. Cleaning the lavatories in an old peoples’ home, for example, running errands for the disabled, clearing litter or a score of other chores have a real purpose and social value that running 26 miles of tarmac does not.
I am happy to sponsor a person to dig a pensioner’s vegetable garden or spend a day taking an Alzheimer patient out and about but I am no longer prepared to pay for an exercise freak to sprint around Cirencester in order, in all probability, to furnish a foreign dictator’s palace.
In fact the next person who asks me to give him money to don a singlet and shorts will be met with my own form that I have had drawn up. I will be asking the great and the good of the Cotswolds to sign up to sponsor me to sit in my local boozer for a week to drink as much whisky and smoke as many cigarettes as I can in aid of Comic Relief. I am looking for a pound for each shot and another quid for each fag I consume and I hope to raise several hundred notes. I will not of course be wearing a red nose as I already have one of those.
This article by Adam Edwards is from the February 2014 issue of Cotswold Life.
Follow him on Twitter: @CotswoldHack