Sunday, 18 December 2011


As some of my online friends already know, I settled down this afternoon for a lazy pre Christmas Sunday afternoon - all my present buying is pretty much done, I've had a couple of lovely Christmas nights out already and have at least one more feast to look forward to before the big day itself. Not to mention another trip out for festive cocktails at my favourite watering hole.

Recovering from the pre-season festivities as I was, I thought I'd throw on a DVD as I lounged on the sofa in my (for a change) cosy living room with the heating on full blast. I was in the mood for some music, so I opted for the Live Aid DVD set I got a few Christmases back. Since I was in for the long haul, instead of flicking through and finding the artists I most wanted to see, I let it run from the beginning - including the original news report from Michael Buerk that kick started the whole Band Aid/Live Aid thing.

It's a while since I've seen the footage - and believe me, it's still as heart rending now as it was then. I'm not ashamed to say that I cried as I watched it again. And while I watched the Band Aid video. And again, when *that* Cars track came on. It is shocking and I defy anyone not to be moved. Disgusted. Appalled.

But do you know what makes me cry even more? The fact that it's still happening. All over the world. In this so called modern world of ours, even today, there are millions who go hungry - in fact, more than the combined populations of USA, Canada and the European Union put together. Hunger is a far bigger killer than AIDS, than malaria or than TB. 25% of children in the developing world are under-nourished.

At the same time, we throw away far more food EVERY DAY than it would take to feed those starving people. There are more obese people on the planet than there are starving ones - about 50% more. And that's a big number when you consider there are nearly 1 billion starving people.

Now, to me - that's real obscenity!

So, at this time of year when we prepare to tuck into our Christmas dinners, containing upwards of 3,000 calories in one meal - about 3 or 4 times what we actually NEED, I'm spending a bit of time finding out what I can do to help.

There's the obvious one about donating to organisations trying to help - people like the UN Food Programme, the Disasters Emergency Committee, Save the Children and many many more. And while it's nowhere near as extreme in the UK, far too many children here grow up in poverty too - approximately 4 million according to some sources. 4 million! In our 'civilised' society. Ok, they're probably not starving but they are still suffering. And their life chances are significantly worse as a result.

Giving money is the easy bit to be honest, my real challenge is to work out what else I can do to make a difference. I'm lucky that there are small things I can do through my job to try to change some of the conditions - but it feels like nowhere near enough. I need to do some serious thinking.

And as I look around at my life - my comfortable, luxurious, safe life - I'm embarrassed. Embarrassed at thinking that sometimes it's hard. Embarrassed at worrying about the silly things I worry about, getting annoyed at trivia. And embarrassed about the excesses that even my relatively low key life allows me.

Obscene - you bet it is! Funny, you never heard Mary Whitehouse complaining about that...

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