World away from the credit crunch
IF THEY ever strapped me into a chair in Room 101, I think the torture of choice would be children dancing. Perhaps it’s because I’m the father of a great big sports-watching, beer-swilling young man, that I find that the thought of gawky, gap-toothed grinning little girls, in tutus and tiaras, prancing nimbly to the tune of the Sugar Plum Fairy, sets my skin crawling like scorpions on a chalkboard. But when your dearest friend goes to enormous effort to stage a worthwhile fund-raising show, loyalty overrides squeamishness, and you grit your teeth and think of how your suffering is in such a good cause. Eventually, of course, you find yourself slowly beginning to marvel at the co-ordination, athleticism, energy, enthusiasm and team-work which goes into dance, which puts to shame your own feeble, fumblefooted efforts at Monday night salsa, not to mention recent performances put in by the players at Spurs. The cause in question was Trust Sulha, an organisation which supports a school for Afghan refugee children in Pakistan, with the slogan “Peace Through Education”. And it puts the credit crunch into perspective when you hear an Afghan woman describing how she fled political persecution by trekking across mountains with three children, where the only mortgage crisis was finding a rock or bush to shelter under. In the early stages of our own financial meltdown it was easy to mock the get-rich-quick brigade, and didn’t we think they had it coming to them (especially when Manchester United shirt sponsor AIG was one of the institutions having to be bailed out). But as the banking system began to collapse we realised we were all standing underneath it and the masonry was falling on our heads, and Manchester United were already boasting they could get more money from somebody else. Comparisons with the plight of Afghan refugees aren’t much comfort when it’s your job under threat, but I suppose at times like this it doesn’t hurt to be reminded that we can be grateful just to have a room of our own in which to find shelter. Even if it does feel, at the moment, a bit like Room 101.