Sunday, June 29, 2008

I think it's fair to say that in my life, I tend to make pretty bad choices. A classic example would be tonight on the way back from a lovely evening well away from London I stopped in a service station to go to the loo. I had about 20 to choose from and yet the first one I went into had no loo seat and the second one had recently had a visitor who hadn't mastered the flush. With this revelation my memories of French camping holidays in the 1980s came flooding back. Seriously, why did it take them so long to realise that shitting in a hole in the ground was not really moving with the times?

However, I did manage to make a sensible decision which was to accept the offer of a friend whom I hadn't seen since the days I was revising for my GCSEs, lazing by the river in the sunshine. It sounds cliched, and it probably is, but the summers when I was a teenage girl consisted of days and days of sunshine and fun. We packed bags of beach towels and school books and a couple of pounds to buy a few glasses of lemonade, and and revised, gossiped and swam in the river without the need of an adult with an advanced CRB check and a health and safety certificate. My friend and I went to a lovely village in Hampshire where the local community had organised an evening of live bands on the village green.

It was an example of how a small group of people can actually make a difference and make something work in a way that big government can't. The majority of bands playing this evening were under 18s who had learnt at after school events in their local schools. The evening was organised by the parish council, who I am told are mainly over 50 and a couple of guys who provided the equipment free of charge and who organised it for no cost. Their gain was giving something back to the community. Tomorrow morning, people from the village who also spent their Saturday morning setting up, will spend their Sunday morning cleaning up cigarette butts from people like me (which I don't feel remotely guilty about because if they hadn't made me a social pariah it would have been in the pub ash tray) and general litter from the happy throngs enjoying themselves.

There were hundreds of people there, mainly young people although I spoke to people of all ages who were simply delighted to be part of a local community event and who were all happy to see the main entertainment being provided by young people.

Had this event been organised by MPs it would never have taken place. Hell, it would never even have been thought of because it would have been a sensible thought not involving quangos and think tanks. And then if it had been, it would have been dominated by people concerned with political correctness, making sure the ethnic and gender balance was correct and the cost involved by making sure that the setting up and controlling was advertised for enough weeks, the applicant companies were interviewed and the most incompetent, useless people were chosen to undertake the role, who then failed, were paid anyway and the next most useless people were called in at the last moment for a vastly inflated fee who wouldn't do a particularly good job anyway, so the whole thing would never be approved.

Because that's the problem with getting people preoccupied with power and self promotion involved in something. They don't see it as a way of actually improving the lives of people, but as a way of making themselves look good and of securing their re-election so they don't have to get a job in the real world. We've had endless government initiatives which have failed, we've had the Tories and their 'hug a hoodie' and yet every time a local council somewhere manages to do something sensible and helpful like fund a basketball court in a city centre it's so rare it makes the evening news.

But without self important politicians and endless tiers of bureaucracy a small group of people managed to put on an event which was not only entertaining but also very useful for those taking part in terms of their hobbies, life experience and self belief.

I hope next year is even more successful and I hope even more that I am invited again.

And I sincerely hope that the local busibodies on the district and county council don't get involved, as that would be a surefire way of stopping the whole event.

1 comment:

Trooper Thompson said...

It's individuals that make a difference for the better, and that's generally irrespective of, if not in spite of, rules, regulations and guidelines issued by the do-gooding sociocrats.