Saturday, 27 November 2010

Facial distraction

Movember is almost over. But before it disappears, let's hear it for the women, far and wide, who have persevered a hair-ific ordeal this month.

That's right. Movember means moustaches. And other facial hair variations. But it's all for a very worthy cause - raising awareness of prostate cancer.

So come on, I know you have some coinage deep in your pockets. Think of the poor woman who has had to suffer this beardy masterpiece for an entire month.

Your currencies of many varieties will be acceptable here:

Well done, Handlebar Horn and the rest of your team. I owe you a song. I hope you like it, it's one of my favourites.

Save ---all ---your ---kisses for December,
Save all your kisses for December
Bye-bye, beardy, bye-bye

Friday, 19 November 2010

Home sweet

I recently discovered I have some wonderful neighbours thanks to the joys of Streetbank: an online community where you can meet the people who live just round the corner from you. AND if you covet any of their belongings, you can borrow them. Just log on, locate your geographical area and think of something quickly that you'd like to lend... like, um... a, euphonium. In return, you can ask Bob at number 74 for the loan of his Mercedes Benz. It's that simple.*

But do we really need a website to help us do this?

It's incredibly sad, but unfortunately for some of us, we just don't get to meet our own neighbours: the young mum you see every weekday struggling onto the bus every morning with her pram. The man who walks his dog along the tow path every weekend. Our paths, somehow, don't cross. Or perhaps we just don't have the time to cross the road to meet them.

I was introduced to this lovely little film made by Breathe, in partnership with Tearfund and Arocha. There's something that really triggers a reaction in me, but there's also something that holds me back from taking the next step. Perhaps not knowing how to, or perhaps not having the courage to carry it out. Giving away our possessions, as a concept, is relatively counter cultural. And yet, it's not exactly original.

When I struggle with radical life choices, one place to look for answers is the early disciples. Take Acts 2 as an example. Here's a type of lifestyle that makes me think how incredibly altruistic those early followers were, how wonderfully sacrificial, holistic and outward looking. But while it might have worked then, surely it's not for today?

I'm still in a state of pondering. But I have definitely experienced the kindness of neighbours and strangers, so I heartily endorse the community that is Streetbank. So if you're not on, why don't you take a little look around your house and think what you'd like to share with someone else. It might just help you get to know your community a little bit better.

And whilst we're on the subject of radical living, if you really want to serve your community, it's useful to get to know who your neighbours are.

* I might have exagerated the items on offer in south west London.

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Toilet twinning at number 10

According to a 2008 survey, our toilet habits in the UK are fairly limited: reading, texting and thinking about food.

But today is a special day, and as it's World Toilet day, this is a chance to remind our leaders that we have a desperately long way to go before we deliver the Millennium Development Goal on water and sanitation. It's an outrage that a third of the world's population (2.5 billion people) do not have a safe place to go to the toilet. I found this little film to illustrate the desperate need.

On top of the 900 million who don't have access to clean water, the recent events in Haiti have compounded relief efforts to keep survivors alive after the earthquake in January and the hurricane Tomas. We're still hearing stories in the news of the cholera epidemic, which now threatens to spread to the Dominican Republic. Read more from the Beeb.

But there is something we can do. The diseases that spread through the lack of clean water and sanitation are easily preventable. We just need to commit resources to water and hygiene education, and urge governments to help communities have access to clean water and have a decent place to go to the toilet. Today, we're asking David Cameron to decorate his own WC with a lovely new accessory - to twin Number 10 with a toilet in Burundi. Please join with us and encourage him to do this.

Or if you'd like to do more and are feeling flush, visit WaterAid's rather nice gift shop. It's a great place to get some inspiration for Christmas...