David Banks: How Band Aid turned into nobodies

Journal columnist David Banks on how 30 years of Do They Know It's Christmas have managed to turn him into his own father

Anthony Devlin/PA Wire Midge Ure (left) and Bob Geldof arrive for the recording of the Band Aid 30 single at Sarm Studios in Notting Hill, London
Midge Ure (left) and Bob Geldof arrive for the recording of the Band Aid 30 single at Sarm Studios in Notting Hill, London

There are few ethical considerations regulating the game of pub dominoes; ill-tempered outbursts, for instance, have always been frowned upon.

“Never let ill-feeling creep into play,” was my grandfather’s solemn stricture when ‘Dod’ Renton played the game for pennies a half-century ago in a pub barely a cockstride from my cottage.

But there is one golden no-no that sits above all others. “Ower much ta’ak” (translation: no speech-play, please) is applied religiously. Too much chatter and a doubles player might gain a clue as to the contents of his partner’s hand.

It is, therefore, with a heavy heart that I report an unsavoury incident at the recent Red Lion ‘Farmers in Need’ charity domino night involving the miscreant Morebottle and his notorious brandy-bibbing associate, the Byreman.

The pair were muttering away, nonsensically as Godzone farmers do, when John the Joiner from Mardon erupted.

“That’s enough!” he roared. “This is like playing against the Bletchley Boys!”

He had, he believed, performed a feat similar to Alan Turing’s cracking of the Enigma Code at Bletchley Park; his damning evidence was laid before a quickly-assembled meeting of the Milfield Ethics Committee.

Constant references by the Byreman to “tacketty boots” were taken to refer to hobnails in a double-six pattern; the muttered words “Berwick Bridge” with its four arches alerted his partner to a handful of fours; and Morebottle’s constant call for “beverage” was a veiled reference to William Beveridge, briefly Berwick’s MP who was defeated in 1945 (four-five, get it?).

The disciplinary hearing was strangely divided on the complaint, perhaps because the Joiner’s own partner, Joe the Demon Barber, had earlier been reproved when a domino was found beneath his chair following a winning hand.

There is, as a result, an uneasy stalemate in the Red Lion’s gaming room. A permanent disciplinary committee now stands ready to hear complaints and its acronym hangs on a board over the bar: TOWIE.

The Only Way is Ethics. . .

What brilliant scientists, those men and women who directed the Philae lander to touch down on the comet 67P after a ten-yearjourney through space. An amazing feat.

Perhaps the team might now turn its attention to something that has defied science for a century or more: designing one of those little stainless steel teapots so that it pours more of its contents into the cup than it dribbles on the table!

One November night in 1984 I sat stony-faced and fumed while my dad, a leftover from the Vera Lynn generation, stared grumpily at the TV screen as Midge Ure and Bob Geldof presented the Band Aid line-up that was making a record for Ethiopian famine relief.

“I’ve never heard of any of them!” my dad proclaimed defiantly as the greatest British chart stars of my generation chummied up to the mic to deliver their life-saving lines.

“Silly old git,” I muttered through clenched teeth. How could he NOT have heard of those superstars?

This week, thirty years later, I yawned my way through a fawning TV news item in which I was treated to snatches of the revised “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” while watching a procession of children tumbling from their limos and threading bashfully through crowds of swooning infants and paparazzi to re-record their new version.

Elbow? Bastille? Paloma Somebody-or-Other? Wrong Direction? “I’ve never heard of any of them!” I snorted. The words were barely out of my mouth when irony struck and echoes of the past came back to mock me. . .

Sorry, dad.

Immigrants: they can’t take a trick in today’s xenophobic Britain, can they? Now we’re blaming foreign birds for smuggling themselves into our duck houses and starting an outbreak of bird flu.

Coming over here, jumping the queue for nesting boxes, demanding treatment from the NHS (National Hen Society). . . they’ll be wanting benefits next!

Still, we’re better of without the 6,000 infected birds that had to be culled: they were destined to end up as Peking Ducks.

MORE bloody foreigners!



David Whetstone
Culture Editor
Graeme Whitfield
Business Editor
Mark Douglas
Newcastle United Editor
Stuart Rayner
Sports Writer