The glitziest was a silent auction held by Kids Company, a charity set up by the colourful Camilla Batmanghelidgh. It is an organisation that we have begun to work with, since many of the children who are failed by society in their early years end up the very troubled young people that Camilla and her team try and help later on. We saw an immediate link and I think our connection will be constructive given her positive, can do attitude. She has captured the interest of the celebrity and the well to do, which is one stream of her fundraising strategy. In this instance, Paul Whitehouse charmed and amused the audience and his guest (me!) all evening, as well as making a generous secret contribution via a hand-held machine.
Compare this to the rather tiring and less exotic conversations we had with other organisations in the same week – about expressions of interest, procurement processes and complicated anonymous portals to become a preferred provider in order to bid for a contract. No doubt, Kids Company is doing this also but having a lively, humorous approach was actually quite uplifting.
Using humour to make a point is being taken to its extreme in Russia at the moment, with activists challenging the authorities by antics they may well have learnt from Borat. The Russian authorities have shown little sense of humour, but the world’s press has cottoned on.
Rather than the current see-saw of storming Millbank or quietly accepting a fate of cuts and economic hardship, I do wonder if we should start a campaign of humour as a means of positive activism. I have to say, on Paul’s performance the other night, I would very much enjoy a view of Big Society from the Fast Show.