Tag Archives: Bob Geldof

Just one dollar can save a New Yorker

When you’re in the midst of turmoil, it’s difficult to understand what the rest of the world thinks about it. When I was sitting at my desk in London in July 2005 trying to catch up with the terrorist attacks on the capital’s transport system, it was hard to get a sense of how the rest of the world was reacting. Did they see it as a continuation of the September 11 attacks in the United States in 2001, or were they thought of as isolated incidents with no real connection to the world at large?

On a wholly different level, when I first realised that there was a vague possibility that my hairline was imperceptibly moving backwards, it was a dark day in the Brit Out Of Water household. Tears were shed, and innocence was lost. Admittedly, this might just have been me, but it felt like a big thing at the time. Clearly, when you’re in the middle of something, it’s difficult to see the wood for the trees.

Talking to She Who Was Born To Worry over the weekend, I casually mentioned that the weather was awful, with driving wind and rain.

“I know, it looks pretty nasty,” she commented.

“What do you mean? Have you secretly been popping over here for a bit of shopping?”

“No no, I’ve just been watching the news about America’s financial collapse. New York’s on its knees begging for mercy, you know.”

Sure enough, with the recent travails of Lehman Brothers, Morgan Stanley et al, New York has been the focus of the world over the last few weeks. While I’ve been complaining about chocolate brownie munching commuters or waiters washing their hands, the Big Apple has been crumbling around me.

Indeed, as far as She Who Was Born To Worry is concerned, New York is currently in the midst of a humanitarian crisis. The United Nations are airdropping bagels and coffee into the outer reaches of Brooklyn, while desperate queueslines are forming outside pizza places across the city, out of fear that mozzarella rationing is about to be instituted.

I tell you, if SWWBTW is right, Sir Bob Geldof is on the verge of getting on a plane over here to put on a fundraising concert with Phil Collins and the remnants of Queen.

Bono’s apparently up for it, but only if organisers will guarantee the availability of pancakes and maple syrup. The way things are going in New York, nothing’s certain.

A distaste for the good life

Maybe it’s because I’m British and we’re quick to put down anybody who is popular and successful, or perhaps it’s because I’m becoming insufferably crotchety in my old age. Whatever it is, I’m here to hold my hands up, look vaguely sheepish, and tell you that I just can’t stand The Do-Gooder.

Now clearly I don’t have an innate distrust of anybody who does good in the world. Bob Geldof may have lank hair and dubious taste in women, but you can’t fault his humanitarian efforts. Although, to be fair Bob, none of us like Mondays so it’s probably time to stop going on about it. Mother Teresa, the Dalai Lama, Martin Luther King et al don’t bother me one iota, despite having the temerity to put the well-being of others above their own. And I’ve even been known to do my own bit for charidee on occasion, although the less said the better about the sponsored wheelbarrow race I organised back at school.

But The Do-Gooder is a different beast altogether. The Do-Gooder can’t help but make sure that every last person knows that they’re doing some ‘selfless’ work, and is guaranteed to make my hackles rise, even if the good deed they’re performing is pretty damn good indeed. Actually, the better the deed is, the more irritated I get with The Do-Gooder. You should see how I tear into those cancer research specialists…

The thing is, every community has its own Do-Gooder. Most people tend to ignore them, work around them or – more usually – give them the fancy sounding title that nobody else really wants. If you get introduced to your local community’s Executive Vice Chair of Waste Management Issues, run a mile.

Of course, there wasn’t a single Do-Gooder in sight when The Special One and I attended the first PTA meeting of the year for The Young Ones’ school. Ahem. All I can say was that I was the only man wearing jeans, and that if ever you hear me ask a question about voting procedures in any meeting anywhere in the world, you have my permission to shoot me.

What was particularly interesting about the meeting was actually the number of people who managed to prove themselves the absolute antithesis of the Do-Gooder. Bear in mind that this is a great school with results that outstrip those of better funded schools across the city. There was the goth looking mummom who played her Nintendo DS throughout the meeting. And the ice-crunching older mother who managed to scoff her way through an entire giant plastic cup of ice in ten minutes, and would probably have eaten the cup as well if she’d been given half a chance. And the family of four who may well have inadvertently wandered into the cafeteria, but still decided to eat their dinner there anyway as the meeting carried on around them.

Add in numerous Blackberry-viewing, diary-filling middle-aged folk, and it seemed at times that The Special One and I were pretty much the only ones actually listening to the headmasterprincipal’s (pretty inspiring) words.

Oh no. You know what this means, don’t you? I’m one step away from being a Do-Gooder. Quick, somebody get the rifle.