Shop­ping angst noth­ing com­pared with bomb­ing

Harefield Gazette - - OPINION -

ON A busy day, tear­ing around the shops, grumpy and ha­rassed, run­ning out of time and won­der­ing if I’d get back to my car be­fore the traf­fic war­den, I felt like I’d got the world on my shoul­ders.

I pulled my­self up short – I wasn’t dodg­ing bombs in Gaza or Libya or Iraq. A pos­si­ble park­ing ticket paled into in­signif­i­cance when com­pared with aban­don­ing my shop­ping to run for shel­ter from air strikes. How do th­ese peo­ple find the strength to keep go­ing?

With the news so aw­ful at the mo­ment a bit of cheer is always wel­come, and mine came in the form of a busker. The strains of Ge­orge Gersh­win’s Some­one to Watch Over Me, in­ter­rupted my less-ro­man­tic quest to buy catarrh pastilles in Boots.

It had me misty-eyed and reach­ing into my pocket for some loose change. Mr F, who wasn’t with me on this oc­ca­sion, knows this is my favourite num­ber and some­times re­quests it for me. (That’s if we hap­pen to be sit­ting in a pi­ano bar where re­quests are wel­comed of course – he doesn’t ran­domly col­lar ev­ery busker we pass).

It made me think about what prompts us to do­nate. Def­i­nitely not char­ity mug­gers (chug­gers) who try and cor­ner us by be­ing over­chummy and in­vad­ing our per­sonal space. Many peo­ple pre­fer to con­trib­ute by pub­li­cis­ing a skill of their own, like run­ning a marathon or show­ing what good sports they are by shav­ing their heads or sit­ting in a bath of baked beans.

I find my­self cheered by some of th­ese ef­forts but strangely ir­ri­tated by oth­ers, par­tic­u­larly peo­ple in su­per­mar­kets pound­ing away on ex­er­cise bikes with big no­tices telling me how many miles they’ve ‘trav­elled’.

I am how­ever drawn to peo­ple shak­ing tins for char­ity as that takes real guts.

A re­cent TV pro­gramme about moth­ers on mod­est in­comes, spray-tan­ning their tod­dlers and dot­ting their clothes with Swarovski crys­tals, had me won­der­ing if it ever crossed their minds that a small frac­tion of the money spent on bling could have fed or vac­ci­nated other chil­dren else­where in the world.

More than any of the gutwrench­ing ap­peals for help that we are cur­rently bom­barded with on TV, th­ese wit­less women had me reach­ing for the phone to re­spond to the next ad­vert for humanitarian aid.

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