I’ve recently started driving to work again, something I’ve not done for over a year but decided to do a little more of in the darker winter months after I was nearly mugged a while back. As a consequence I’ve had a bit of Radio 2 on in the morning. I’m not a huge fan of Chris Evans but he has mellowed with age and aside from the bit where he talks to kids, it’s pretty good.
At the moment on Radio 2 they are in full fundraising mode for Children in Need. There is some sort of big celeb packed exclusive meal/entertainment evening happening next June, compared by David Jason, with the Stereophonics and Gary Barlow playing to a small audience. The tables are being auctioned off and they’re raising about an average of £25,000 each.
I’ll preface what I say next by firstly saying I’ve volunteered at some charity balls before, the sort of events where the rich come to take part in the charity auction for exclusive “money can’t buy items”, give money in front of people and feel good about themselves. At the end of the evening a lot of money is raised, so you could argue the means justify the ends. But I stopped doing it because I felt uncomfortable with the extravagant show of largesse. Perhaps I had become jaded but somehow I felt the act of giving had been perverted (in the true sense of the word) from a genuine desire to see the world a better place to something more like a desire to be seen to be generous in front of other rich people. Like I said, at the end of the day it probably didn’t matter since the charity benefited regardless of the motivation but my heart wasn’t in it any more.
Hearing on Radio 2 that individuals have bid more than the national average wage to attend an exclusive money can’t buy event and have had their names read out to 8 million listeners on national radio filled me with much the same feeling and I know I’m not the only one:
I don’t let elitism get to me, but when you hear people are spending more than your combined annual household income on 1 meal #bbcr2 …
— Owain Jones (@NoNoticeHobbit) November 13, 2013
Of course in a sense the wealthy individuals aren’t daft- they’re not giving their money away as a donation in these auctions, they’re buying something, in this instance an exclusive money can’t buy experience with a bunch of celebs and other similarly rich people, that isn’t usually available even to people like them in the normal course of events.
Perhaps it’s this that’s left a sour taste in my mouth.
I know that given the ability to make that sort of a bid on a charity auction probably means the people involved give multiples of this away to charity in the privacy of their own private life. At least I hope it does. Am I envious of their wealth? I’ve thought long and hard about this and I don’t think I am. In an abstract way I would like to be a multi millionaire but I think it would probably ruin me as a person. Imagine how many bags of Haribo a Euromillions win would buy. Frightening.