Friday, December 14, 2012

On the Thirteenth Day of Advent: Rain in Tripoli and Band Aid 1984

The most memorable part of Christmas 1984 for me was Band Aid and the song, "Do They Know It's Christmas?"

Although I'd been determined to do so, I eventually chose not to stay in Tripoli over Christmas.  The inability to find decent food (let alone Christmas food), coupled with appalling weather -- rain ten days straight, if memory serves, which flooded the already terrible roads and isolated me more than usual from my friends -- finished me off.  At the last minute, I flew back to England to spend the season with my family.

All I heard about, from my arrival in London until my departure a week later, was the third-world horror that was Ethiopia -- I'd never seen such poverty and devastation -- and the well-intentioned, first-world song designed to alleviate it.  It was also the first time I witnessed what can happen when large groups gather to do good.  A spark of "charity, mercy, forbearance, benevolence" was ignited in me during what was a rather self-pitying time in my life, reminding me that a sure-fire way to stop feeling sorry for oneself is to focus one's attention on someone else's needs.  Apologies if that sounds self-righteous but it's how it was.  What I thought of as "my miserable Christmas" couldn't compare with the miseries of others.  I was a bit old at twenty seven to need reminding but I'm glad the spark was lit.  Even now, I readily admit that more often than not I need a "mighty fire" lit under my arse before I actually get off it (my arse, that is), but my intentions are good, even if my personal road to hell is paved with them.

Band Aid was a charity super-group featuring leading British/Irish musicians and recording artists.  It was founded in 1984 by Bob Geldof and Midge Ure to raise money for anti-poverty efforts in Ethiopia by releasing the song, "Do They Know It's Christmas?"  for the Christmas market that year. On 25 November 1984, the song was recorded at Sarm West Studios in Notting Hill, London, and released in the UK four days later. The single surpassed the hopes of the producers to become the Christmas number one on that release. Two subsequent re-recordings to raise further money for charity also topped the charts. The original was produced by Midge Ure.  (Wikipedia)

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