Tag Archives: charity

Money, Money, Money…

Sorry if you’ve previously been to this page and found just a photo and a title – I seem to have deleted the post, but I’ve found it again (eventually) and it’s back where it needs to be.

I won on Friday night’s lottery. Of course, things are never that simple and with great wealth comes the worry and responsibility of managing the cash. Fortunately the National Lottery realises this and they have a system to help you with the burden. In my case they have further decided to lighten the financial burden and have kept the prize manageable, sending me the sum of £1.60 electronically. In an ideal world they would also have provided me with a magnifying glass to ensure I could see the prize.

I’ve now won five times during lockdown, which is probably a sign I’ve been playing too much. As the total winnings have been £46.60 I’ve decide not to let it change my life. I’ve also decided to stop doing the lottery. There is an old joke, which can be used for many purposes. It goes:
“How do you make a small fortune from gambling/the antiques trade/farming/stocks and shares?”

Answer: “Start with a large one.”

It is useful for many industries and activities.

At this rate it’ll be a long time before I run out of money, but have been thinking about it and have decided that I really should give up. The chances of a proper win are small and the thought of becoming rich brings out the worst in me. Although I’d like to do some good with the money, I’m not sure it would be good for the kids to be assured of financial stability in life and I don’t think I have the required moral fibre to give it all to good causes.

sea sunset beach couple

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

I also lack the enthusiasm to lead a millionaire lifestyle. I have no desire to pour money down the drain owning a football team or a racehorse, don’t like too much sun, prefer Fanta to Champagne, don’t want to buy an island, would have difficulty getting in and out of a sports car, and only need three bedrooms at most (one for us, one for guests and one for the computer). If you have too many bedrooms you end up with visitors, who will eat your food and you will have to be nice to them.

To be honest, it really ought to go to someone who would appreciate it.

I do have a couple of plans in case I win the lottery but they don’t reflect much credit on me. One is to annoy the neighbours on one side by engaging workmen to constantly hammer and drill (we had half an hour of hammering again today) and on the other by planting a tall shady tree.

The second is to buy a large number of second-hand cars and park them where they will cause the most annoyance to the people who have annoyed me by their inconsiderate parking over the years. I reckon forty cars should do it. Even with tax, insurance and paying a few drivers this will be considerably cheaper than owning a racehorse, and much more satisfying.

As you see, being rich would not be good for me.

It’s time I reviewed my charitable giving, but that is a different story, and will be the subject of another, more serious, post.

bank banking black and white budget

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

 

Charity, Children and Christmas

It’s finally here (which is more than you can say about the promised article on the Gibraltar £20 coin), and in just over three hours it will be Christmas. It seems like a lot of effort goes into just one day.

It also seems like a lot of guilt goes into it, as we are emotionally blackmailed into giving money to the homeless, foreign children and donkeys. Now, I have great sympathy for the homeless, and for foreign children who are needlessly blind, or in need of fresh water, but I don’t appreciate the tactics of the charities in swamping the Christmas TV screens with these adverts.

As for the donkeys, I may sound heartless but compared to a child I don’t really see the suffering in the same league. I also think that on charity quiz shows the celebrities should be prohibited from raising money for animal charities, but that’s a personal view and as the RSPCA raised £81 million from legacies last year it seems there are plenty of people who are happy to give.

It’s an interesting document, the RSPCA report, though I notice that , once again, it fails to call for the prosecution of people who deliberately breed faults into dogs in the name of breed standards. Another personal point there. I must be careful not to rant.

I give to two charities monthly One is for children overseas and one for children in this country. I’ve been thinking of transferring the former donation to the homeless in this country, but after seeing the adverts I’ve decided to leave it. I may transfer the second one, as I’ve had words with the charity over the years about their tactics in trying to bully me to give more. It shows the power, and wisdom, of the TV adverts, where one has stopped me withdrawing support, and the other, which doesn’t advertise, might lose out. On the other hand, as it’s the charity and not the kids that have upset me, I may leave that too.

I’m in better financial shape than I have been for the last few years, so I may just have to give more, as I’m beginning to think about the homeless and the Salvation Army. Their adverts at Christmas always make me feel that way and General Booth came from Nottingham so I should support the local man.

And that, via a circuitous route, takes us back to the beginning of the post. It looks like the adverts, irritating, and cynical as they may be, do serve a purpose.

I will now wish those of you who celebrate Christmas good wishes for the holiday. Those of you who don’t celebrate Christmas can have my good wishes too. If you don’t hear from me tomorrow, imagine me eating a large lunch, with turkey and Hasselback potatoes, and snoozing in front of a feast of variable quality TV.

Dog Show Prize Medal

Dog Show Prize Medal

 

A Short Note on Difficult Customers

Sometimes on eBay you run up against an immovable object. With over a thousand items listed for sale at any time we are obviously going to make mistakes. In nine months we’ve sent the wrong item twice and had one complaint about quality. That’s less than quarter of a per cent.

We now have another complaint. With hindsight we should have expected it as the buyer asked for a discount before buying. We politely declined but he ordered anyway. We then had a letter of complaint telling us this was the worst lot he’d ever bought and various other things.

We offered him his money back.

He’s just replied that we’ve missed the point. He doesn’t want to send them back for a refund, he wants to struggle selling them and moan that the charity he sells for will lose money. He’s very keen to tell you he sells for charity.

There’s not much you can do to help some people.

Cynicism prompts me to suggest that his next note will contain a threat about negative feedback and another suggestion about discount. After all, he does sell for charity you know…

What Does £32,000,000 Buy? (Part 2)

I’ve been doing more thinking since yesterday, specifically about President Trump’s comments on the “cowardly” security guard at the school shooting.

I thought about two things at that point. One was that if I’d been there I’d have been hiding behind him, so it’s not for me to talk about courage. The other is that a man who avoided service in Vietnam should perhaps follow my lead and not lecture others about lack of courage.

Mainly, however, I’ve been thinking about how to spend £32,000,000.

I could buy 100,000 good used handguns for that money, but I’m English and I wouldn’t know what to do with them.

When Derby built a velodrome recently (which can also host other events) it cost £22 million. Allow a bit for inflation, buying land and some running costs and I don’t suppose there will be much change out of the £32 million.

That’s a shame, as I was hoping the budget would stretch to some fact-finding tours in exotic locations and a couple of years as a “consultant”.  (I have been learning from things I have seen over the last few years).

From what I’ve seen over the years you could set up a nice rugby club with £10 million.

Perhaps an ice rink – from looking at the internet it looks like you might be able to build one for the price of a rugby club. You could even build a rink for long track speed skating, as we don’t have any in the UK. I imagine there’s a good reason for that, such as a lack of long track speed skaters but it’s probably a Field of Dreams situation – if you build it they will come. If not, you’re going to be stuck with a lot of empty ice.

In my mind’s eye I’m seeing a cross between a velodrome and a long track rink. It features quite a long, banked track and features bicycles with studded tyres. It probably won’t catch on. Anyway, you’d probably find it hard to freeze water on a slope.

However, even as that idea fades a picture of men on skis going down a bobsleigh track replaces it…

How about a nice tropical island instead?

At least we now  have a definite answer to the question of money and the Winter Olympics. For £32,000,000 you can buy one Gold and four Bronze medals, plus a lot of heartbreak, character building and learning experiences. And cliches.

Is it worth it? In truth, probably not. We don’t really have the facilities or the snow for most winter sports so it will always be a bit of frippery.  In most cases we aren’t going to derive any lasting benefit from the Games as people generally don’t have access to the facilities needed to train, apart from curling and short track skating.

At this point I really should show the depth of my character and sensitivity and tell you how many starving children I could support if I had £32 million..

I’ve spoken about Mary’s Meals before, a charity that provides breakfast at school for kids in the developing world. They could provide a year of breakfasts for over 2,300,000 kids. That sounds like good value to me.

I’m sure there are many other projects that would benefit too.

Unfortunately for my reputation as a deep and sensitive soul I am having trouble getting past the idea of a tropical island. It’s getting colder at the moment and I’m beginning to think of warmth and sunshine.

 

 

 

Paper Flags

I first became interested in paper charity flags when I saw some in an antique shop in the early 1990s. They were stuck to a card and had obviously been in a scrap book. This rendered them useless to a collector in many ways but it had allowed the previous owner to write dates and information next to them, so they were more interesting in another way.

As you can see – ambulances were a popular subject. The stories of privately raised medical units, and the people who staffed them could be a book in itself. This list  gives you some idea. Add Lawrence Binyon to it. He often gets overlooked.

Over the years I added a few more, even buying a few off a lady who had kept one of each that she had sold for the Red Cross in 1918. She was sitting with her grand-daughter at an antiques fair in a Suffolk village hall. She was happy that the flags had found a good home, and I was happy to have spent a few minutes chatting with a lady who had eighty years of history behind her. That was in the days when it used to be worth stopping when you saw a sign by the roadside.

Horses were popular too. Eight million horses died in the Great War, plus countless mules and donkeys. They had, as far as I know, no strong views on Belgian neutrality, and didn’t get the right to vote in 1918 after their contribution to the war effort. All in all I think they got a raw deal.

There’s a good Word Press site on military horses but I can’t find it at the moment – I’ll have another look tonight.

As with almost everything, I have various parts of the collection scattered in a variety of boxes around the house, and have a patchy knowledge of the subject. If only I’d applied myself to learning more about the subject I might be an expert with a PhD on litter and a TV series on The Things We Threw Away. Stranger things have happened.

I took a few photographs recently, so here are a few examples for you to look at.

Belgians were also popular in the Great War (see Hercule Poirot for example) and ended up here in great numbers. This link told me a lot I didn’t know about them. I’ve seen the odd plaque about, including one in the Nottingham Guildhall but I never really looked into the subject. I believe that Belgians did have strong views on Belgian neutrality – look here and here for two who certainly did.

Frightened by brassieres

Sorry to mention female underwear, but it seems to have been a feature of this week.

First my sister raised the subject.

She also raised the subject of my comments on Mum’s soup. Just to clarify matters – she was a good cook, and cooked a wide variety of what were seen as adventurous food in the 1970s. Her soup also tasted good. It was just that it didn’t look good.

Anyway, back to brassieres. It seems that they can be quite important to women in Africa, because women with underwear are not only more comfortable but are seen as more likely to have male family members, which frees them from the threat of attack.

You’d think they had enough problems with war, famine and bad water.

There are several charities shipping underwear to Africa, which can include “gently worn” bras. This is one of them.

I have all this on the authority of my sister – please don’t think I sit here thinking about underwear.

It became more of a feature when Julia asked me if I could pick up some bras while I was shopping. Being a well-trained husband I said I would. After all, how difficult can it be?

When is was in my early 20s I once went into Marks & Spencers to buy an underslip as a present. I’m still scarred by the memory. I mean, first you feel like you’re being regarded as a pervert.  Then you go snow blind at the amount of nylon. There is only so much underwear you can see before you start staring around in panic. I was helped out by one of the assistants. It was probably not the first time she’d had to help out.

However, I’m older and wiser now, and more a man of the world. I had the size written on a piece of paper, I have done lots of laundry, there was nothing that could go wrong.

Well, apart from some women staring at me like I shouldn’t be there. I confess I panicked.

Next week I will give Julia a lift to the shop and she will buy her own.

Yes, I know many of you will thinking of this clip.

Greengages and Government

I really ought to be writing my next Desert Island Blogs  but if I do I won’t get round to writing about today.

It’s not been an outstandingly interesting day, but then again, it’s been good enough to record – starting with greengages and ending in conflict with the government.

The greengages in the garden are sparse but pleasant. The tree is in need of a good prune to open it up into the approved goblet shape and I suspect a good feed will do some good too. It’s at the top of my list because I like greengages, but we’ll have to see what actually happens. When your wife is in charge, and has a group of enthusiastic volunteers to help her, nothing is certain. So far they’ve ripped out armfuls of mint, laid waste to the toadflax and clipped random branches off most of the fruit trees because they watch Monty Don on TV.

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Elusive greengages, Wilford, Notts

She couldn’t run the garden without them, but it would be nice to have some order in the place. Whenever I think of work going on in the garden I tend to think of a maelstrom of ativity directed towards tidiness rather than pollinators.

From there I went to Newark. The weather was lovely and I heard an interesting story about shoes.

In the aftermath of the Great War the storyteller’s grandfather died as a result of gas he had inhaled on the Western Front. It was a common story, with some veterans still coughing their ways through the 1960s and 70s due to gas injuries. This death, with an eighteen-month-old girl in the family(thev storyteller’s mother) , cast them all into poverty. They were able to get shoes from a charity – shoes for boys had Peter Pan on the front and the shoes for girls had Cinderella. She was so ashamed of her charity shoes that she tried to cover the Cinderella up using blacklead grate polish.

Does anyone know anything about these shoes?  Ideally I need input from a Londoner in his 70s – now where would I find one of them?

I’ve tried Google but it’s mostly about pantomimes. There was a Bradford Cinderella Club but there’s no mention of pictures on shoes.

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Newark from the car park, again

After that it was time to get back to Nottingham for a blood test. I walked in, registered and didn’t even have time to open my book before being buzzed through.  Unfortunately they sent me through to the wrong room. Then they redirected me and I went to another wrong room, though I think that was my fault. Finally they stuck a needle in me. Then another. And another. Then they called another nurse in, and she failed. Finally, as my false grin was stating to fade, they hit the red stuff. To be fair, they had hit the veins with previous attempts (and I was leaking blood all over the place) but they just couldn’t fill a tube.

Last time I gave that much blood the Blood Transfusion Service gave me a cup of tea and a biscuit.

It’s getting time for my car’s MOT test, and it occurred to me that I hadn’t had a reminder from the DVLA. I checked on the website and they have no record. This is government cost cutting in action. Seemingly it’s quite common these days. I nipped down to the garage to check, and confirmed I do need  a test. I’ve booked it in for tomorrow.

After picking Julia up from work I went shopping, only to find that the road was closed. It took a while getting round that, after which I had to use a different branch of TESCO than the one I had intended. This entailed parking next to a squashed pigeon and dodging round a number of large women with tattoos, who were shopping, slowly, with their equally large, slow daughters.

Now, I’m large myself, and I don’t move as fast as I did, but I do try to employ a degree of spatial awareness and I don’t take my kids shopping. They wouldn’t go anyway: they don’t like being seem with me.

Finally, to confirm my view of the place there were no decent books on the charity book table. At my normal branch there is a bookcase with five shelves of books. At the one I used tonight, just a table with a scattering of dog-eared rubbish.

As a final thought, the insides of my elbows hurt as if they’ve been stabbed multiple times. Oh, that’s right…

 

Funding – reality strikes back

When we set up the project the theory was that it was going to pay for itself because clients would pay from their personal budgets (which were just being introduced) and we would have a company that funded itself from fees and produce sales.

Things didn’t quite develop as we intended. The council still seems to control the budgets and they have cut many of our clients back until one of them is now paying only half the daily rate we started with.

We weren’t expecting to make a fortune but we were expecting to take a small wage out of it. We don’t, and that’s why we have several other part-time jobs to make ends meet.  However, this is about funding, not about me moaning about housekeeping.

When we started, other projects couldn’t believe what we were doing, or that we were viable. I suppose that’s what happens when you grow up in an era where people throw money at you. Soon, though, we noticed a change, as people were coming to talk to us about how we did it. Don’t get me wrong – there are other people out there who cover their costs without grants, but they are few and far between.

Unfortunately we can’t advise people how to do it because they can’t replicate what we have, such as a modest lifestyle, a small house with no mortgage and a willingness to work for less than minimum wage.

The only advice we could give, apart from lowering costs and expectations, and becoming a charity as you can access more funds that way. With so much competition for funding most people with money to give away will only give to registered charities. We are a Community Interest Company (Quercus Community CIC, according to our full title) and have never followed my advice.

Many local groups have gone this route over the years, though it’s still relying on grants rather than earning your own money. We have applied for grants now and then but are generally turned down. I know it’s nothing personal because it was much the same when I was involved in fund-raising for junior sports clubs. We once wanted new shirts for a junior rugby team – it eventually took over six months, including grants from three sources, four days of bag-packing in supermarkets and some nifty sponsorship deals. If you don’t have a good brand and a good sob story it’s a long, hard slog to raise funds.

I’ve just been reading a report from the NCVO on the current funding of charities – small charities have more erratic funding due to fewer income streams, the emphasis is shifting to income generation from grants and legacies are a neglected form of fund-raising – are three key points, though not unexpected.

In one way it’s good to be vindicated about income generation, but in others it’s a bit of a worry. As for the legacies, I’ve known about the benefits of legacies for years (from a sport-related training course believe it or not) but I don’t think we have a big enough pool of people to mention it to. It’s a delicate subject unless you can blanket a large membership with a reminder about it. With just a few elderly people about the place we’re more likely to be vilified as a modern Burke and Hare.

 

Second post of the day

Sorry if it seems like I’m running a bus company, no blogs for a while then two come along at the same time…

It was quite a good week last week and it mostly got steamrollered by Open Farm Sunday and the scarecrows.

We saw a red kite over Screveton for the first time in the four years we’ve been here. It was a great view too, with a really good silhouette against a beautiful blue sky (and who had left his camera in the back of the car? Yes, me.)

We had chocolate slab cake after one of the mothers made cakes for a volunteer event that was cancelled. Sadness at the cancellation was, I’m sorry to say, short-lived when I looked into the tin.

I know I lead a dull and boring life, but they are surely highlights even in the life of an exciting celebrity. Did Demi Moore see a red kite? Did anyone give Barack Obama a chocolate slab cake? Does my choice of celebrity mark me as being out of step with the modern world?

Anyway, far from the lifestyle of the rich and famous, we also had around 325 children in the activity tent over the course of Open Farm Sunday.

I was quite pleased with that – 325 kids who now know a bit more about food, farming and the environment., though I know it’s a drop in the ocean when you look at surveys like this that tell us 40% of people don’t know we grow oats in this country (I selected that one because of the next paragraph, but some of the other findings are equally worrying).

Then I started thinking about future events – it will be World  Porridge Day in  October and part of that is about Mary’s Meals – we’ve supported them in the past and they’ve just fed a million kids. A million! I’m now slightly less impressed with our 325.

However, we have another 30 coming in tomorrow (leaving me just 999, 645 of the million) and we’re doing insects and habitats with them. This calls for less blogging and more reading as I’m hopeless with insect ID.

Watch this space…