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You're In The Charity Now



I got drafted. There's no other word for it. David Cameron's Big Society means that I have social responsibility and thus I must accept that occupational contribution, voluntary work, workfare, or whatever you want to call it, is now feature of being unemployed. So I reported to the charity organisation as ordered, only unlike National Serice of previous generations, I didn't bring a sitcase and toothbrush.


Not everyone who volunteers gets through basic training. A few listless youngsters faded away over the first few days. The professional malingerer Mr J was there, immedioately claiming that he suffered from this ailment or that, what cruel world world it was, that voluntary work was too lowly for him, or whatever excuse he could think of. And once again, he stomped out in moral outrage, going back to his laid back llifestyle while I and others roisk life and limb in the secondhand furniture trade.


The charity I was ordered to volunteer for was a sort of furniture warehouse combined with a cafe. The sort of place whee you can drp in, enjoy a coffee, exchange a bit of banter, and buy some secondhand furniture. The furniture gets donated by all sorts of people, rich or poor, so that people without money can purchase stuff other people don't want.


My first day was in the workshop, sanding down neglected garden table and chairs, and then to varnish them. Not with any old creosote mind you, thinned down yacht varnish. Only the best for the financially challenged. Of course it was pointless arguing. The workshop leader was an old craftsman who didn't talk to anyone else and got disgruntled by everyone elses lack of craftmanship. Like mine, as it transpires.


So I spent the day mindlessly daubing the table and chairs with none-too-cheap varnish and getting suburnt. Aside from the lack of olive green clothes and some african american sergeant in a slouch hat yelling ayt me to do yet more press ups, the oppressive heat of our flaming July, I might as well as gotten off a bus at Biloxi in the deep south of the USA. All for Queen and country. I'm in the Charity now.


Opinion Of The Week

I happened to be watching the news channel Al Jazeerah the other day and along came a report about a film festival somewhere out there in the world. There's a strong theme of war films apparently, with no punches barred, covering some controversial subjects. It inspired an interview with someone who spouted this little nugget of ridiculous wisdom...


The purpose of art is to force us to face our most painful truths


What? That most of us are either talentless or gifted con merchants? Art exists as a form of expression. We can express anything. Romanticism, entertainment, drama, political beliefs, religious sentiment, or simply a statement of ego. If you want to comunicate pain, so be it. Personally I like my landscapes, or those pictures that invoke moods and dreams. I already know the truth of it - that I prefer the escapism, the suggestion that I'm glimpsing a time and place I canot otherwise experience..


But getting back to the point, what do we want to see in a war film? I note that the nastiness of war is becoming the prevalent theme. Camaraderie, heroism - these aren't forbidden subjects but it seems as if they're deeply unfashionable. Why is the world film industry suddenly getting so moral and determined to express political controversy? Is it because there are important messages to be said, or is it because people are bored with commercial stereotype movies, or is the constant barrage of media broadcasts politicising our view of human conflict and the injustices it generates? News reports don't change the world into a better place, so I seriously doubt art is going to. However seriously some artists want to be taken.