Just a few short unrelated comments about Live 8:
1. Anita, our lovely new au pair, arrived from Hungary on Saturday morning and immediately put us at ease by making us feel very old by not being born when Live Aid was performed. That's right - not even born! On a plus point, she had managed to make it all the way to 19 without ever hearing of Bob Geldof. Lucky girl. Sadly he has entered her life too now.
2. Swearing featured a lot. Everyone thought they could make their mark on stage with a gratuitous "fuck" or "shit" and sometimes both. Jasper, our youngest, also thought it would be a great idea to start a game of Chinese Whispers round the lunch table with "Fucking Hell". He was saved by his brother who quickly turned it into something else. I am in two minds about swearing. On the one hand, I think that a well placed "fuck" can achieve excellent emphasis or humour. On the other, it is insidious and awful when used by or in front of children. Sadly I swear a lot, even in front of my kids. I know it is wrong but equally I just don't think that bad language ranks alongside violence, for example, in today's list of taboos.
3. Pete Doherty was and is abhorent. To appear on a stage like that, clearly under the influence of a large quantity of stimulants, was hideous. Worse still was and is his patron, Elton John. Sadly, Elton has joined the likes of Michael Jackson; not in his penchant for young boys (particularly) but in his complete lack of membership of the real world. John has just lost the plot and lives in his own little world. They are both despicable people and the sight of celebrities trying to rehabilitrate each other is just as amusing as it gets.
4. The difference between the sanctimonious acts and the good acts stood out a mile. Some of the better performers knew they were there to entertain and support a message through the power of fun. Others were patronising and shallow and just don't see the revolting irony of saying the words whilst wearing jewels worth more than the GDP of most small African nations (Madonna). Perform and entertain - don't preach and patronise. We're not stupid.
5. Robbie Williams rocks. What a star. He is one of very few of the 90's stars who will still be as popular when he is 65 as Pink Floyd and The Who were that night. Many people went out on stage determined to inherit Freddie's mantle, but only Robbie had the talent and charisma to come close. I am always heartened that even in the world of music, the best really does outlast and outshine the worst, no matter what hype it achieves at the time. Bob's real achievement that night was to put Pink Floyd back together. The world and I are truly grateful for that. I intend for the full 16min version of "Shine On You Crazy Diamond" to be played at my funeral!
6. Furthermore, some of the dross on show in Hyde Park just underlined the rubbish argument that Bob put forward for banishing proper African acts from the stage and sending them to Cornwall. Ladysmith Black Mambosa, Mango Groove and Johnny Clegg & Savuka would have kept me firmly in my sofa, but Doherty, Snoop Dog, the Killers, Velvet Revolting and others sent me happily into the garden to pull up weeds. Well done Peter Gabriel for welcoming them.
7. Why does anybody stand at the back of a 200,000 strong crowd??!!
8. Apparently Westminster City Council made a million pounds in fines for late running. £350m per hour past the 9.30pm deadline. Well it was at least midnight before it ended. I'd make Velvet Revolting and Mariah Carey pay it.
9. Yes I did get swept up in the whole poverty history thing, and yes I do think that global events such as this raise awareness and place appropriate pressures on our political leaders to make them think harder and yes I did make my children watch the old images of famine in Ethiopia set to the Car's classic - but I stand by my earlier post: we will not solve Africa's problems by simply singing along to the Boomtown Rats and spraying money at it. We must understand how we got from that level of development to where we are now. We must understand that sustainable wealth creation requires time to develop and that you cannot miss out important development phases that make up the firm foundation. We must look at and understand Africa with appreciation for the social and anthropoligical forces that drive that continent. They are different.
Education, free and fair trade and democracy.
10. Please God may something be done. I really couldn't cope if Bob felt the need to do this again. Keep playing Sting / Floyd / McCartney / Bono / Williams, because if he does have to, he's going to need you again. There's nobody else.
11. Nothing to do with L8 but I watched the Spy Who Loved Me on Friday and finally worked out where Clarkson gets his ideas for Top Gear. Bond car chases. Obvious really. More to the point, why is the identity of the Stig not an issue of national intrigue?