1980s >> 1988 >> no-1004-april-1988

Comic Relief

Remember February 5th? — the momentous day we all donned our red noses, bow ties and other silly attire, for comic relief. Yet another day of activity to raise yet more funds for charities and worthwhile causes. Millions of people bought red noses; some walked backwards on pub crawls, others ate worms or threw jelly; all supposedly to alleviate suffering here and around the globe.

Working as I do from five in the morning at a newsagents, I had it all day. First half-a-dozen sleepy eyed, red nosed newsboys/ girls — then school kids in an assortment of madcap outfits, and later on even a horse paid a visit asking for donations. These brainwashed children from seven to seventy, convinced that this was the way to end famine and other needs, kept asking me “where is your red nose?” Charity, I replied, is futile as the problems are always recurring. I was told not to be a bore and asked what I would do about these problems.

Well, while Bob Geldof helped raise some one million pounds for famine relief over two years, the Common Market spends more than two million pounds every week on its unwanted food mountains. In Britain’s 248 grain stores there is enough wheat and barley to feed six million people for three years. There are 47,000 tons of beef, 23,000 tons of skimmed milk powder and 248,000 tons of butter, much of which is more than two years old and useless. According to This Week (TV 4 February) and other sources, it is the civil war in Ethiopia which prevents relief agency supplies from reaching areas stricken again by drought. Agonisingly the agencies are ready but they cannot transport the food to where an estimated five million people are at risk of starvation.

On top of this is the fact that over one million pounds is spent every minute on the most destructive, grotesque weapons ever created. “Well, that’s fair enough” the clowns reply, “so what do you propose?” What about a society where all the resources are commonly owned and democratically controlled — where factories, farms, offices, mines and media belong to the whole community regardless of race or sex? A world in which people have free access to all goods and services, giving according to their ability and taking according to their self-defined needs?

At the nearby library red nosed readers were served by red nosed librarians as cars passed by outside with red balloons on their bonnets. The school children dressed as penguins and peasants, threw jelly and streamers, the clowns joined the horse on the backwards walk to the pub. And they call socialists crazy.