Isn’t it ridiculous what otherwise sane, well-adjusted and reasonably-educated people will do for charity? As long as they have the flimsy excuse that it is for a good cause, many will make absolute monkeys of themselves by eating too many baked beans, walking in blister-inducing conditions to some of the most God-forsaken outposts of empire – like Achmore – and having buckets of ice-cold water chucked at them by so-called friends who seem to enjoy the task just a tad too much.
Someone I know is absolutely petrified of heights. She recently decided to climb the highest electricity pylon in South Wales as it was due to be switched off for a few hours. It was all for the British Heart Foundation. She got up fine and then realised she couldn’t get back down because she felt faint if she looked down. She was afraid her own heart was failing. A rescue team had to come and take her down, gingerly. She won’t be trying that one again.
The latest silly nonsense, called the Ice Bucket Challenge has reached Stornoway, and is just the latest case in point. Actually, there have been several cases in Point but I’m coming to that. When Peter Frates, a former Boston College baseball player who has Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), a form of Motor Neurone Disease, challenged a few professionals in the sport to heave a bucket of chilly H2O over themselves to raise funds, he really started something.
Other charities have unscrupulously jumped on the bandwagon by using his social media hashtags themselves but that is going to be a stooshie for another day. If you have no idea what I am talking about and think a hashtag is that funny stuff you were putting in your Golden Virginia when you were in university in the 1960s, this is a clear sign you should no longer be allowed out on your own. Just saying.
Everyone is doing the challenge. It’s the natural follow-on to selfies. It is just a selfie with movie action, and water, and a charitable purpose. Everybody wins except when a strapping, well-built fellow does it and ends up looking like a big Jessie for going all breathless and girly at mere contact with cold water. Oh-oh, oooh-oooh, aaah-aaah. Ah sharrap, you wuss.
The Right Rev John Chalmers, the Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, was up for a visit with Mrs Mod the other day. There has been all that unpleasantness with the funny fundamentalists splitting from the church recently so they were probably all on tenterhooks in case hordes of the disenchanted might swarm down Francis Street and be rude. How would they protest? What would they actually say? Verily, verily we say unto thee; boo, hiss, down with this sort of thing?
Happily, it was all very polite and friendly right up until the couple visited The Shed, the new youth and community centre at Martin’s Memorial Church. Then the minister, the Rev Tommy Macneil, cornered them and promptly flung a pailful of the finest Stornoway rainwater all over him while an accomplice similarly-drenched Mrs Mod. And Tommy is pastor to a loyal flock. The Mods kept smiling and saying how they were happy to do the challenge but I bet the damp duo left vowing not to come back here again any time soon.
My own wife has also got all caught up in the pallaver. Mrs X has been very excited at the prospect of getting a dooking for the cause. Poor thing that she is, she has been at sixes and sevens because we have still failed to put together a table we bought last week which turned out to be an impossibly difficult and complicated flatpack job with hardly any instructions and tiny drawings. Thank you so much to the shop with the name which is in the plural of supercargo.
She is a scatterbrain in any case, of course, but all that stress about doing it has meant things have been getting messy. Living with her in the last week has been like using a blender with no lid. Which is why she went down to Bayble Pier in Point yesterday and finally did the Ice Bucket Challenge. She didn’t stop at the bucket and splash though but then hopped, stepped and jumped to the edge and dived gracefully into the briney leaving hardly a ripple as she slipped elegantly beneath the white-tipped breakers rolling in from Achiltibuie. That is the official line and I am certainly not suggesting anything different happened.
When I got soaked on Monday, for my nominations I put up our council convener, leader and chief executive. Sadly, but perhaps not surprisingly, the authority tells me two of the three gentlemen concerned are unavoidably detained on hugely-important business on the mainland and cannot possibly rush back for a spot of ritual humiliation by tonight’s 6pm deadline. Ooh, let me think. You know something, I think we are all quite happy to wait.