Deborah Ross: Our Woman in Crouch End

There's no problem big enough we can't sling the Spice Girls at it. Now that would be gr8!
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The Independent Online

I think I am getting fed up of all those who are just so sniffy about Live8, which I accept is no match for the brilliance of my own Expector8 - cough it all up for Africa! - but still. Africa's poverty problems, the argument appears to go, can not be solved by throwing Madonna and the Spice Girls at them, although the thought of throwing Madonna and the Spice Girls, if only for the sheer hell of it, and possibly from a substantial height, is mighty tempting. I reckon Geri will come off the best because she is just kind of bouncier and more Tigger-ish, somehow. I imagine Posh will simply splinter on impact.*

I think I am getting fed up of all those who are just so sniffy about Live8, which I accept is no match for the brilliance of my own Expector8 - cough it all up for Africa! - but still. Africa's poverty problems, the argument appears to go, can not be solved by throwing Madonna and the Spice Girls at them, although the thought of throwing Madonna and the Spice Girls, if only for the sheer hell of it, and possibly from a substantial height, is mighty tempting. I reckon Geri will come off the best because she is just kind of bouncier and more Tigger-ish, somehow. I imagine Posh will simply splinter on impact.*

I'd text like a mad person for a ticket to see that. But then I would, as I am something of a Reprob8.

Anyway, Africa's poverty problems, it is said, are manifold, complex and intractable. Where to start? The arbitrary, ruler-straight country boundaries drawn up by the colonising powers, with no regard for tribal ethnicity? The under-representation of citizens by corrupt one-party governments and military oligarchies? The peculiar failure of African economies to ever "take off" in a fully capitalist way, which actually might not be such a bad thing, because at least you can go where you like in Africa without ever being asked if you have a Nectar card, which always comes as a terrible blow to the sort of shopper you think you are.

I mean, do I look like the sort of person who collects points so that in five years time I can get 2p off a bar of Dove soap? Do I look like the sort of person who dines out at Beefeater, with its 150 restaurants and no need to book (I bet)? In Britain, you can't go anywhere these days without being asked for a Nectar card. Ah, Ms Ross, I see you are booked in for the triple-quadruple-somersaulting-bypass this afternoon. Nothing to worry about, a perfectly routine complex operation with a high fatality rate so that, if we don't get you, Clostidium difficile almost certainly will. Do you have a Nectar card? Would you like a form for the instant you come round, in the unlikely instance that you ever do?

This may irrit8

I am actually thinking of beginning a new movement - "Irrit8" - which will kick off with The Long Walk To Sainsbury's (via Argos and Threshers but not Beefeaters, as you have to draw the line somewhere). I truly believe that such a march is the only way we can make all our voices heard and create a moment in history where ordinary people achieve something monumental and ensure we are never asked about Nectar cards again. YOU can make Nectar cards history. YOU can get involved. YOU can also visit the website to order badges, banners, shampoos and car stickers, all on the theme of: "Do I look like I dine at Beefeaters? Do I? Do I?"

Now, where were we? Oh, yes, Africa, and pop concerts, and Madonna and the Spice Girls (I think Emma might be second most bouncy-ish) and Sir Elton and Robbie and Sting and U2 and that other mighty temptation, the one that finds certain shallow people, of the kind I would never mix with, wanting to shout: "Well, if you care so much, give them your own bloody money, and leave the rest of us alone and, while you're about it, stop speaking for me, because I never signed up for any of this, and might not think it's the solution - and please don't patronise Africa, that great continent which gave birth to the whole of humanity, without so much as an epidural, which is worthy of respect in anyone's book, but especially so for those who called out for an epidural at conception and then just kept it topped up." Still, you do have to admire Sir Bob's nerve. I recently asked NatWest to cancel my debt but they only laughed and basically told me to piss off. I wish I'd asked Bono to make the call.

Time to decor8

However, all this said, things like Live8, as well as Comic Relief, and every kind of Relief, apart from Hand Relief - go on, do it for Africa; you know you want to anyway - have certainly done much to raise awareness of the issues, and so what if such gushing donations do no lasting good, only ever "papering over the cracks?"

I mean, we've been papering over the cracks in our house for years now, and I can highly recommend it, as it has continually spared us from stripping everything back to the shot plaster and doing things properly.

Of course, much of the house has now fallen in, but it's still home to us, or would be if I could find the rest of the family under the rubble. Still, we have saved ourselves a lot of trouble and expense. Now, this is all I have to say on this Deb8. (Deb8! Do you think I could get that made into my own personal Numberpl8?) And don't forget to Expector8. Smokers particularly welcome, for once. Nectar cards not.

* Bring safety goggles and helmet as you wouldn't want a shard of Posh in your eye or her pout to fly into your ear. It's very sticky and it'll take you ages to work it back out again.

d.ross@independent.co.uk

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