I learned lots of things from the original Band Aid single when I was a nine-year-old back in 1984.
I learned that “no rain, no rivers flow” in Africa and they don’t have Christmas, that African people are poor and need the help of white people because they can’t help themselves, that if you wear headphones it looks cool to put your hands over them as if they might escape your ears at any moment whilst singing, that swearing on the telly isn’t allowed even if you’re Bob Geldof and that giving money to charity is a good thing to do.
I’ve sadly learned that life is a lot more complicated than the days when my pencil rubbers smelled of strawberries.
It turns out that you still can’t swear on telly, even if you’re Bob Geldof and that giving money to charity can sometimes be a good thing if it’s the right charity, but the rest of what I learned is not quite true after all...
Good on the Sky reporter who asked Bob Geldof about whether it would be more helpful for millionaire music stars to actually pay all of their tax.
Good also on the Africa Express spokesperson who said that Band Aid contributes to damaging ideas about Africa which have hit its tourism and trade and that the latest song “ignores Africans, will raise a comparative pittance and has a logo implying ebola has struck the whole continent”.
Geldof’s response to the criticism has also revealed how different some people’s attitudes are to time and money.
He talked about how Bono had “given up a television programme” he was doing, Ed Sheeran had travelled through the night and One Direction, Ellie Goulding and Olly Murs had cleared space in their busy schedules. These celebrities have done the amazing thing of giving up their very valuable hours and minutes. Their hours and minutes are much more expensive than our hours and minutes which is why we are expected to give money in the form of buying the single.
Adele on the other hand, according to Saint Bob, is “doing nothing” at the moment, which is why she didn’t get back to him about being involved, though they initially announced her as one of the guests.
This “doing nothing” consists of “bringing up a family”, he said. She has made a big donation to Oxfam’s ebola appeal instead. Money instead of time. I would suggest that Adele is the one undertaking a revolutionary act here.
At a time in her life when she could be making more records and more millions, she is spending months and minutes with her family.
Isn’t she thinking ahead? What on earth is she going to write in her pop star autobiography at the point where it is traditional for pop stars to write about how they suddenly realised they hadn’t seen any family members for years and that scruffy, white haired old bloke they tossed a fiver to when they got off a flight at Heathrow was actually their Dad?
How will she fill the chapters where her partner and children are supposed to undergo breakdowns, addictions and compulsive reality TV appearances in order to fill the void of their celebrity family member’s presence?
Interestingly, the top comedian Lee Evans has just announced that he’s retiring from comedy at the age of fifty because he’d like to spend more time with his wife and young daughter. He said “Every single week I have been doing plays. I have had to say to my little Mo “I can’t go to the school play as I have got to do this work. But now I can be with little Mo and do the things that we never did when we were kids.”
Perhaps the tide is turning and people are realising that, if they have the luxury of the option, being able to spend more time at home means they’ve got more inner resources to spend outside it too. As Christmas in African countries containing considerably more Christians than the UK approaches, let’s give what we can to organisations like the Disasters Emergency Committee, or to whatever charitable causes we connect with us, whilst remembering that there really is no shame in the fact that, for many of us, charity really does begin at home.