Fiona Duff: I’m a bad sport at charity games

David Beckham joins David Jason and Nicholas Lyndhurst, left, for Sport Relief. Picture: PA
David Beckham joins David Jason and Nicholas Lyndhurst, left, for Sport Relief. Picture: PA
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I know it is not going to make me very popular in some circles but I don’t really get the point of Sport Relief. All these famous people doing “crayzee” endurance feats which don’t really have any rhyme or reason.

Apparently this year Davina McColl is going to attempt to get from London to Edinburgh in a week. For flip’s sake, even when we were transported around by horse and carriage it didn’t take that long – hasn’t she heard of trains, planes or cars?

Announced this week is that the highlight for 2014 is David Beckham appearing on a new Only Fools And Horses sketch which I imagine will be as funny as a kick in the shins. Although if he just sits there smiling it will be a mild diversion from the mundane tasks in my life.

I’ve always been slightly sceptical of charities ever since it was revealed, many moons ago, that one well known charity spent more than 90 per cent of donated income on administrative costs. Of course, this could well be an urban myth, but the fact is that Comic Relief had a damning Panorama investigation last year which revealed that your donations are invested in companies that deal in arms, cigarettes and alcohol.

There’s no doubt that these days charities are big businesses which need professional staff and advisors; they are no longer the preserve of ladies who lunch holding jam sales.

However, a huge organisation becomes a monolith where decision-making is completely strangled by the fact that, as in most large companies, no-one will put their head above the parapet for fear of being shot.

I have been on the board of two charities and both were guilty as charged of the above. At my first meeting at one I sat around a table as the others present discussed the best investment company with whom to trust the several millions that they had sloshing around in the bank. At gatherings for the other, the employed staff would nod and smile when I came up with fundraising ideas, then do hee haw in the way of enacting them.

The fact is that if you really want to help, go local. If you want to assist the very poor in your community give something to a food bank, and if you are an animal lover don’t donate to the RSPCA, go and hand over some money to the Edinburgh Cat & Dog Home. Don’t let that sweet smile of David Beckham make you think otherwise.

End pattern of tartan tat buying

On the subject of all things Scottish, there is often hand-wringing consternation in the local media about the proliferation of shops selling tartan tat.

It’s great for a jokey present, but do we really want tourists thinking that as a nation we have to have all our products made in China? However, the other day I stumbled across a shop in the Grassmarket called Strathberry. It’s not for the faint-hearted of handbag as the products are quite pricey, but it’s top quality, Scottish-made and extremely stylish. If you come across any visitors who looks as though they’d like to spend a bit of cash point them in this direction.

Brand new take on democracy

So Russell Brand has been on television pontificating about why no-one should bother voting as he regarded politicians as “untrustworthy and irrelevant”, which is fine coming from an ex-junkie with the sexual morals of a randy alley cat.

There are indeed those in politics who are corrupt, some who are weak and others who are downright stupid. However, if the only other choice is somewhere like Zimbabwe or Syria I reckon that we’re not too badly off in this country.

There are men and women who died so that we could cast a vote and give some little say in how this country is run; so feel free to laugh at Brand (I’ve seen him live and he is very funny) but remember that the chance to write an X on a little bit of paper every few years is a privilege that many other people in the world would give their right arm to have.