“Why do we have to go to the Charity Ball?” my chum Biffo Boyle grumbled on Friday evening down in the club “I mean didn’t we give them something last year”. “Because its charity Biffo” I answered with a sigh “we have to be seen to be doing these things”. “Who was it for last year anyway….I forget with all the donations I give” Biffo continued, shaking the jar on the counter marked “Brown Babies Appeal” for some change for the juke box. “I think it was the homeless people of Tanzania” Spike Righteous answered knowledgeably “as a result of your kind benevolent nature….there was 22 more huts built in time for the hurricanes in the Autumn”. “That was jolly decent of you Biffo” I added with a smile “that’s the PAYE brethren for you….just all heart”. “But what about the homeless here at home….do they have a reciprocal charity for them over in Tanzania?” Biffo asked with interest. “Don’t be a buffoon….we’re one of the developed countries….our homeless people are homeless by choice….otherwise why would we have thousands of empty homes all over the country” I said seriously “anyway it looks better for Kenny to help people in Tanzania…it’ll score him great points for that job he’s after in Europe”.
“How much are we expected to give this year then?” Spike asked, carefully removing the cobwebs from his wallet so as not to disrupt the third generation of spiders nesting in there. “I don’t think there’s any specific amount Spike….last year I gave a pair of our canteen luncheon vouchers” Biffo answered proudly. “But isn’t it only Guards that can use them” Spike asked, dropping his wallet when one of the larger spiders growled at him. “It’s the thought that counts Spike…we’re not all accountants you know” he answered crossly. “We certainly are not” I added “accountants…such as myself…really are the chosen people”. “So how much did you give last year then Thackeray…..it was a lot I suppose” Spike asked embarrassedly. “I didn’t ACTUALLY give anything” I said with a low cough “I spend it all on my tuxedo”. “You WHAT” Biffo shouted “you didn’t give a red cent….you cheapskate….and you have the nerve to say that I should be giving something”. “It’s all about perception chaps” I said aloofly “when people see me…an affluent chartered accountant….looking snazzy in my Armani tuxedo….it encourages others to give….it’s a very important role you know”. “Good God Thackeray…that just beats all” Biffo replied shaking his head “no wonder the country is the way it is”. “Once again Biffo…you fail to see the bigger picture” I said with a heavy sigh “when you turn up wearing a tuxedo by De Paul St Vincent….then people are quite rightly horrified and will give nothing….there’s no prestige in it….the charities that do the best…are the best dressed charities….it’s pure economics you see….the more glamorous the charities….the more money they get….just wait for Christmas”. “Isn’t there something very wrong with that picture” Spike asked, scratching his head “won’t there be an awful amount of money wasted that should go to the poor people”. “But they still get some” I answered, annoyed with his line of questioning “after the cost of hiring out The Westbury, the fireworks display, the supermodels, the 40ft hand crafted ice sculpture of a swan, Bon Jovi and the €25,000 bar bill….they usually get enough for a packet of chips each….so I don’t really see your point”. “Well I think it’s a sham” Biffo announced “meanwhile Spike it’s your round….charity begins at home”. Charity Balls…still it seemed like a good idea at the time….