Archive for December, 2008

Diary state of affairs

Although I should be revising Spanish for my imminent trip to Chile, or wine knowledge for my impending work-related course I really feel the need to blog about my new diary (perhaps this would not be the case if the wine revision was practical.  Text-book based learning is less enthralling).

Anyway, I recently made a trip to the soon-to-be late Woolies to bag myself a diary bargain and managed to find the smallest one possible but couldn’t help noticing that it was a lot fatter than last year’s WH Smith counterpart.  Never mind , it was a paltry £2 so I nabbed it.  Now, on closer (and procrastination-induced) inspection, I realise that the reason for its hefty wieght is its overwhelming mass of totally useless information.  Yes, it’s commonplace to have national holidays, numbers for travel emergencies – even mileage charts – in diaries, but do I really need a list of gift ideas for  sick people (taped music or an amusing book)?  I even have a paragraph in here telling me how to remove perspiration stains from clothing, as well as three pages of quotes, a calorie counter and seasonal gardening notes.   Now, I am not saying that this information is totally useless – there have been, and will continue to be, times when I do need to know the member states of the EU, or which Monarch preceded Richard I (who, I now know, was in the House of Plantagenet), but will I ever think to go to my diary for this information?  If I need to know the mileage from Barcelona to Dieppe, I don’t think it will be urgent so I will wait until I am online, or I will ask a local with my new-found Spanish linguistic skills.  

I’d like to leave you with a couple of valuable nuggets of information contained within the ‘Useful Travel Tips’ chapter:

  • ‘Avoid any contact with drugs.’
  • ‘Use insect repellent to avoid insect bites.’
  • ‘There is a global risk of indiscriminate terrorist attacks.’

Boy, am I glad to have these with me at all times, even if it does add 30% to my diary’s size.


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So, I am facing a predicament.  I really want to help in some way towards the cholera crisis in Zimbabwe but don’t know what to do.  After seeing a donation slip printed in a national newspaper to give money to the British Red Cross’ appeal, I was tempted but reluctant; would my money actually go to those in need, or would it end up in Mugabe’s pocket somewhere along the way?  And does it matter?  If getting to the people who need help has to involve levels of ‘minor corruption’ somewhere along the line, surely now is the time to waive comfortable moral objections and just get to the people who are dying, no matter what, and if my money ends up being used as a ‘transport’ cost, does that ultimately matter?  I started to fill out the form.

But then I spoke to some people and they seemed to think I was mad for donating.  If I wanted to do good, why didn’t I just give some money to the local special needs playgroup or to Orang-utans in Borneo?  What was the point in giving more money to Mugabe – it would only fuel his corrupt rule.  Well, my issue is not what I should do with all this spare cash I have floating around from the bountiful times we are all going through, it is that I want to help this cause specifically.  I know that my money might end up in the wrong hands, but what else can I do?  However, I did put the slip to one side.

I don’t want to use this as an excuse though.  A friend of mine will not give money to tramps on the street in case they spend it on the usual evils, but she does have a standing order to a homeless charity, which ensures that she is helping the cause in the most effective manner.  How can I do the same for the cholera appeal?

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