Prepare for some bah humbug!
Back in 1984/85 – height of the Miners Strike and all that – I was a lefty student union sabbatical officer at Liverpool University. The Deputy President to be precise. One of my onerous duties was to oversee the college rag week, which I absolutely hated. It just seemed like the most toe curling and naff part of the year. Students being wheeled along in baths full of baked beans. All that kind of thing. Plus a rag week brochure full of questionable “jokes” – often about minorities. So I made a personal pledge not to be friends with anybody who was an enthusiastic rag week supporter.
Not because I was a cold-hearted type. I supported more causes than there were stars in the firmament – from Chile Solidarity to CND and Community Action. I campaigned to keep Croxteth Comprehensive open and to open the university facilities to local people. But in doing this, I never stuck a red clown’s nose on my face or donned a giant Bugs Bunny outfit. This very visual and self-congratulatory approach to good deeds seemed to bubble up in the late 80s during the least charitable of times – social guilt maybe?
It seems these days, charity and good causes have become an ostentatious and tiresome exercise in self-promotion and ‘having a laugh’. If you don’t play along, then the self-appointed charity police on social media descend to scream that you’re a totally uncaring git. In our era of enforced heart warming, god forbid you should demur from the over-emotionalism of people who share endless pix of puppies on Facebook.
A good buddy of mine who is a deputy head in a very challenging south London school posted on his Facebook site that he wasn’t going to be told how to show his charitable side. He’d give on his own terms but thanks for asking. I’m basically with him – if you want life to be one long rag week, well get on with it. I’ll leave you to sit in your bath of baked beans. But I’ll donate when I want to and to the causes I support.
BTW – Justin Bieber appears to have done the ice bucket challenge twice. Enough said.