Deborah Ross: Our Woman in Crouch End

If you want me, I'm Lot 32, under Alexei Sayle and on top of Graeme Le Saux: so bid, bid, bid
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The Independent Online

It's that time of year again - your chance to bid for 41 exciting lots linked to the work of this newspaper while doing your bit to help charity. I am, it appears, among these bids (Lot 32). And you know what? Aside from clamouring night and day to be included, I'm just not sure how I got in there (at Lot 32).

Still, there you have it, and it's not something I particularly take much interest in, aside from checking on the bids and how much I might be worth every four minutes and sometimes every two. There have even been occasions when not even a single minute has gone by. "You," says my partner, "are pathetic." It's only, I say, because I am concerned about the amount I might be raising for the various charities. "Which are what, exactly?" he asks. You know, good ones. That do nice things for people. Like give them honey bees and chickens and clean water and stuff.

This is the kind of thing that matters to me, and while I have said in the past that nothing would give me more pleasure than poking Pudsey Bear's other eye out - except punching that James Blunt in the face, because he's really starting to annoy me and sings like a girl - that's neither here nor there. I am much like Anita Roddick. In fact, there is very little to choose between Anita Roddick and myself, the only difference being that whereas she is prepared to give away her fortune I like to count mine at the kitchen table most evenings and then hide it in shoe boxes all over the house before further checking what I am worth at Lot 32. I'm the one under Alexei Sayle, which is no joke, let me tell you.

I agree that Ms Roddick is a person of proper integrity, but would just like to add that I once wrote to her care of The Body Shop and never received a reply. My letter went: "Dear Ms Roddick, I recently used your Brazil Nut Moisturising Shampoo for dry/damaged hair on my pet rabbit, Fluffy, and while I can see her ears are significantly more moisturised and less dry/damaged - she can now flick them like the girl on the Timotei ad - her eyes are very red and sore.

"Couldn't problems like this be avoided if only you tested on animals first? Call yourself a responsible and ethical entrepreneur? Please respond by return as I would like to use your peppermint foot lotion on our goldfish, Goldie, but am not sure if it is safe and would like some reassurance."

Nothing. Zilch. All I am saying is that if you ignore the fact she has just given away £51m to people less well off than herself, she might not be all she's cracked up to be unlike, for example, anyone associated with Lot 32, who is.

Of course, the auction, where you can bid for Lot 32, is not a popularity contest; it's not like the person with the least bids is going to get the boot on Boxing Day, although it might be wise not to answer the telephone all the same. And it's not as if I care whether I'm worth more than a ramble with Janet Street-Porter (not to be confused with Sarah Jessica Parker, which she never is, plus I think most of us know which signature fragrance we'd prefer) or that I'm not nearly up there with "Meet the Boss", even though I would say that, fond of Simon Kelner as I am, he's nothing that special. Luckily, journalists just aren't competitive types, anyway. Indeed, a lot of journalists live in Crouch End and there is even one café that's been nicknamed The Great Piece Café because it is full of journalists mouthing at each other: "Great piece, Saturday. Great piece." They might then mouth "wanker" and do the hand thing when they think no one is looking but this is also neither here nor there. Lot 32 is a good lot. I'm the one on top of little Graeme Le Saux and that's where I'm staying, even though he keeps shouting: "Get off, get off, you stupid fat lump! And take your shoeboxes with you!"

At my last look, which would have been a few days ago if it hadn't actually been just now - and then just now, again - I appear to be worth some money at least. You know, if I were avaricious, vain, egotistical and all the things I'm decidedly not - no way! - I might ask myself why I've been giving my company away for free all these years.

As it happens, I spoke to my friend Lisa on the phone last night for 20 minutes which did make me think I could possibly invoice her for around £70, but then I thought: "No, no! That's not what this is all about! That's not in the spirit of the thing. And we do go way back." So, in the end, I made it out for £65, which is a good discount, but may mean I'll have to start a new shoe box all the same. As for my parents, who have known me all my life and yet never been billed, I suspect they may need to sell their house. Sorry, mum. Sorry, dad. But it would have been the same if I'd been a tennis prodigy or ice-dancer of championship potential. Get real.

To conclude, do bid, bid, bid, not necessarily for Lot 32, even though most would agree it's quite the best lot, but because it could make all the difference when it comes to some poor person getting bees and that kind of stuff. This is why I'm now off to check on the bids again. "You're pathetic," says my partner, "you really are." Are you talking to me?, I ask. If so, that'll be £1.25. Plus VAT.

* A Better Place charity auction: bid now!

* A Better Place: Donate now!

* A Better Place: Full appeal links.