The man who said it's better to give than receive had the clap...


Does Charity have to go hand in hand with the foghorn of unrelated publicity and self-promotion? John Lennon famously said at a Royal Variety Performance in aid of Charity: "You guys in the cheap seats can clap, while you lot in the dress circle just rattle your jewelry." I am shocked at not only how much tickets for gala dinners now cost but the tiny fraction of the nights' takings that eventually filter down to the charity. The amount of money that disappears into the promotion and overhead of mega Charity Balls is eye watering, sometimes over 90%. Is it really all worth it? Women are shoehorned into impossible dresses and men pretend they look like James Bond when they are just held into their tight fitting dinner jackets by Uni-Bond. The food is a delicate balance between pretentious and uneatable. The vast ballroom is either hot enough to poach an egg in my underpants or cold enough to hear the hair on my legs crackle. As the tables are the size of a skating rink, I cannot speak to anyone but my immediate 'neighbour without a megaphone. Worst is, I invariably end up seated next to some airhead who drones on about how at a previous event she sat next to a loved up A list movie duo or Wall Street killer couple. "It was simply so amusing, dahling, " she gushes. She explains that the (now divorcing) couple competed against each other in the auction for a week in some other zillionaire's hermetically sealed villa. "Between the two they drove the price through the roof......they took a bow of course."

...and another thing

For companies who get paid inflated fees to organise these events and are meant to be savvy about marketing, let me offer a teensy word of advice.

If you really want to get a room full of people in dinner jackets and $20,000 Alaia dresses to dig into their pockets, do not run a film showing people in a desperate plight. It makes even the most supportive diner feel uncomfortable.

If the organisers must show a movie, show the benefit from last year’s funds and the great changes they wrought. Showing a movie of abject misery does not encourage anyone to open the bidding at the auction that inevitably follows it. Waving your paddle for $25,000 to have a mediocre Painter dawb up a portrait of your kids, makes the first bidder look completely insensitive. (Having no artistic taste is a given).

However sometimes I wonder if raising money might not really be the overriding concern of many of the attendees. It’s about raising profile.

Some flame haired celeb with a body that looks like a snake that has swallowed two bowling balls, vies for the attention of the collected Paparazzi. She just wants to show of her ‘charity cred’….as well as a brand new pair of boobs! Even better if she gets in a free plug for the next TV series. But ask her what the charity is and she’ll look at you like a surprised owl.

At the end of the day there is something tacky about some gala hostesses who preen about organising an event when the main beneficiary is not starving kids but the feeding of egos.

Maybe charitable donations should only be tax deductible if anonymous?

...and another thing

There are exceptions to the above.

My beloved wife told me of a Charity Ball held at the White House during George Bush’s Presidency in aid of the sufferers from Tourette’s syndrome. The wonderful Barbara Bush had agreed to host the event and the organisers had decided to have a Tourette syndrome sufferer at each table.

As the First Lady allegedly entered the room one poor soul got up and screamed:


“F*ck off you old c*nt.”


After a moment of shocked silence another stood up and yelled something worse…then another and another until the room was a cacophony of swearing a sailor would blush at!

The Security detail leaped on the First Lady as if an assassination attempt was underway and unceremoniously bundled her out of the room………

Apparently the First Lady took it all in good humour and once order had been restored the evening was a huge success. Those suffering this awful affliction at least raised the profile of their charity and generated a waterfall of contributions!

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