When I first started writing these blogs my main aim was to put down my thoughts on writing and my personal experiences of the publishing industry.  The vast majority of these were lost when the website was hacked, with my prostatectomy experience being the only page I desperately attempted to recover.  However, as more time has passed my patience has worn thin and finally disappeared down the plughole of life.  This is because I ‘work from home’.  More importantly, my ‘deadlines’ are not day-to-day or week-to week, but year-to-year.  This gives me a certain level of flexibility with my writing, especially as I now have seven and a half hours to work every weekday.

The trouble is, I don’t like working in silence.  Without background noise I end up talking to myself, and some of the things I come out with are a little odd!  This means I need to have either the radio, the TV or music playing in the background.  I can only listen to music for two-three hours a day, as otherwise I get bored.  I can’t listen to the radio at all.  The music played is banal and so is the performance of the DJs:  endless inane small talk interspersed with dull, ‘chart’ music instantly gets me reaching for the ‘off’ button.

So obviously this means that I have to rely on a mixture of music and TV.  Yet there is a problem.  Daytime TV is a fusion of ancient TV programmes aimed at pensioners (endless repeats of ‘Last of the Summer Wine’:  if you aren’t in the UK and don’t know the programme, count yourself lucky!), or the unemployed (‘Jeremy Kyle’:  I refer you to my previous caveat) or – and I say this as a man who gave up work to look after his newborn son, so no negative thoughts should be attached to the word – ‘housewives’ (‘Loose Women’, ‘Lorraine’ etc.).  Sky Sports News?  No.  Endless repetition of gossip and rumour interspersed with dull stories about the transfer rumours of the top six in the Premier League with very few references to ‘lesser’ teams.  ‘Depressing’ isn’t a strong enough word.

But this isn’t where my ire rises.  I understand that pensioners may like ‘Last of the Summer Wine’, that ‘Jeremy Kyle’ fascinates many people, that women who gave up careers to look after children deserve some form of entertainment during the day – although to class ‘Loose Women’ as entertainment takes some imagination – and that there are a lot of jobless Manchester United and Liverpool supporters who need to be kept on the edge of their seats.

No, I am slowly being driven mad by the adverts in between the programmes.  Especially over Christmas, but now continuing into the New Year – Happy New Year, by the way! – the level of what I call ‘begging ads’ has become unjustifiable, at least to me.  For those not in the know, these are adverts for charities.  Now I have no problem with most charities.  The vast majority fulfil a need by helping those unable to help themselves either due to illness, war or some other destructive event.  No:  it is the sheer number of them, plus the time of day these ads are run, that gets me annoyed.

Let me explain.  Over the last two days – and this is after Christmas – I have recorded eleven different charity ads on various channels.  These range from the NSPCC, to Great Ormond Street Hospital, to the RSPCA, to overseas aid such as UNICEF and WaterAid.  Fair enough, these all do valuable work.  But it is obvious from the timing of these ads and the channels on which they are played the most that the majority are not aimed at the ‘general viewer’.  Oh no.  They focus upon the elderly.

Now it may be a sheer coincidence that these ads are on television likely to be watched by the more mature viewer and timed during the day for when pensioners are watching, but I doubt it.  These ads are being aimed specifically at people who are likely to be extremely touched by, for example, the plight of children losing their sight in Africa.  Yes, I know: we all are.  But most of us have a limited budget and can make a reasoned decision as to which of these ads to respond to.  Yet many of the elderly may not have the judgement necessary, due to the onset of degenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s, to know when to stop giving.  Before she passed away my mother, who was one of the most compassionate people I have ever met, had Alzheimer’s and when it began to take serious effect she could easily have given away her entire life savings to these charities.  Are these charities really aiming to bankrupt the vulnerable?  Or are they simply ‘targeting a legitimate demographic in the aim of meeting the perceived needs of the alternately vulnerable’?

If you think I am exaggerating the problem … well you may be right.  And if there were only the charities named above spending a fortune on this propaganda offensive, I’d probably agree with you.  But along with them there are adverts wanting to save:  Children in Africa, Children in Syria, Children Going Blind, the Whale, the Dolphin, the Panda, the Snow Leopard, Penguins, Polar Bears, Donkeys, Elephants, Orcas …. the list goes on.  And all the majority want is ‘just’ £2 or £3 a month.

Cheap?  Maybe.  But after seeing who they are targeting, now consider what is being asked.  Adopt a Polar Bear?  What?  How?  Adopt a single Orca??  What, and watch it as it swims through the ocean??  How the hell do you adopt a Snow Leopard?  Does it come to live with you?  You’ve also got to ask what it spends the money on?  It wouldn’t surprise me if after being filmed walking through the snow the Leopard takes the money and spends it on fags and alcohol!  There are probably hundreds of Snow Leopards roaming drunk through the Altai Mountains telling each other they’re their best mate, or throwing up in the snow, or going to hospital for lung cancer treatment.  Because that is another legitimate question.  If you ‘adopt’ an Orca, what is the organisation doing with the money?  The imagination runs riot, but with few valid possible answers.

So I have a sceptical view of begging ads, especially of these ‘adopt a wild animal’ requests.  Yet it is only when the sheer number of these ads and their target audience is taken into account that my anger finds a focus.  There are well over 20 of these adverts asking for (on average) ‘just £2 a month’.  So that means that there could easily be people visiting their elderly parents to find that these vulnerable and well-meaning people are giving well over £40 a month to charities.  For some of them, this will be a large chunk of their pension.

Yes, I will admit that in the majority of cases these ads are in a good cause, but as far as I’m concerned the perceived choice of target is just beyond contempt.