For the last month and a half, Britain’s tabloids have been obsessed with the Jimmy Savile paedophile scandal, the subsequent witch hunt and the resignation of the BBC Director General after Newsnight wrongly accused Lord McAlpine of paedophilia.
Meanwhile, the world turns.
Anna Smith in Vancouver tells me that “the BBC scandals have barely caused a ripple here, possibly because there is a particularly infamous massage parlour located near a busy intersection in Vancouver called Broadway Body Care. It advertises in the employment classifieds: Make top money – Become a BBC Girl !!!”
Anna tells me that, following a court case last year, the Vancouver BBC currently has a sign on the door with a note saying “closed for renovations”.
Not unlike the original in that respect, then.
Meanwhile, the world turns.
Comedy critic Kate Copstick keeps me updated on her work in Kenya for her Mama Biashara charity. This morning, I received her latest e-diary:
Today is a medical clinic and our ‘clinic’ is a small breezeblock square that looks like an outside toilet. And is about the size of a double portaloo. And indeed may BE an outside toilet, judging by the smell. A massive queue is forming. The highlights of the day are …
Susan who has sole care of four grandchildren and has legs which are each the size of Janette Krankie. She has pain everywhere, palpitations, and has to be lifted in and out of our portaloo.
Hannah who is 82 and has care of 12 grandchildren. She makes the average population of an L.S. Lowry painting look obese: bad joints, pain and a persistent cough.
Josephine who presents us with what I suspect is shingles. My suspicions raised, I send her for an HIV test which comes back positive. She is a house girl in the area and hopelessly alone.
John who has a heart that sounds like someone is playing the maracas.
Beatrice who tells us she gets “pain” then “falls down” and “her legs die”.
Mary who says “there is something growing in my eye” and who is absolutely right – a brown fungus is growing over both corneas.
Mary’s baby who is 1 year and 3 months and weighs 6kg – He has rickets and vomits up anything except breast milk.
Felix who is 9 years old and has a rectal prolapse.
Patrick who was attacked by thieves and lost an eye and part of his jaw. The wounds are now infected and extruding pus.
Then there are coughing mucusy babies, the usual time-wasting imaginary ‘fever’ and a load of de-worming to do and cod liver oil and various vitamins to give out. Bicarbonate of Soda is a wonder drug here. You have no idea how many ‘ulcers’ it cures.
By the end of the workshop, we are working in the dark and we have had to close the door. We have a list of people to take to various hospitals and clinics tomorrow and people to follow-up on next week.
OK, so today I did a Lenny Henry. I teared up. Which is appalling. Tearing up is a totally pointless, self-indulgent exercise. Every second a well-fed, secure, healthy person spends dabbing tears from their eyes is a second they COULD and SHOULD have been spending doing something to fix the situation they are so upset about.
Luckily I have few tears, so to business …