Friday, January 6, 2012

»300 words. 500 signatures. No point.

300 words. 500 signatures. No point.

Ms R is currently bemused by what passes for summer clothing in London, the number of people who acquire Brazilian citizenship during the World Cup and letters in the newspaper signed by people who are Well Known and who Normally Act or Sing or Do Something Artistic But Who Feel They Must Be Political.

You can practically guarantee the appearance of a multi-signatory letter when the G20 summit rolls around. So it did. Yesterday. It doesn't matter which paper or what it said. What matters is that it was there, an earnest 300 or so words about fairness and poor people signed by the likes of Scarlet Johanssen and Colin Firth. I don't know about you but hell I'm convinced. These people all signed it ergo they must care. If we apportion the words between the signatories that gives them an investment of about 0.0075 in each letter. But now we're being churlish. They just don't have the time to instruct their personal PA to write their own letter.

What intrigues and amuses Ms R is how these letters come about and how they are passed around. How do they start? How do they decide what goes in? Does each celebrity sit there agonising over the words and pass back their comments.

"Colin I think you've been a bit passive there. I'd probably use a stronger word," says Scarlett. "I really can't sign if you say that. There's just so much riding on this I can't commit my signature to it if you use that word."

Colin Firth throws up his hands in despair, cancels promo tour, filming and talk show and decides he will concentrate on the letter until he gets it perfectly right. It is difficult getting consensus from all these people with their promotional tours but he is determined that this 300 words will matter and will change the world. A conference call is suggested. All the celebrities drop everything they are doing and sit in, anxious that this should be absolutely spot on. There is lively discussion and like all conference calls it goes on for hours but they don't care: they have to get this right because their names will be on it. Finally after some heated exchanges and overnight phone calls it is ready the next morning. They are excited especially when they are phoned by the editor to say the letter is definitely going to be published. Wow.

Someone says it would be great if they could get Bono to sign. But he can't. He's to busy to allow his name to be used. But he sends his love. And peace of course.

It is perfect: generic, trivial, dull and uncompelling. But oh the signatures are something else. Trailing down the page they cling to the end of the letter for legitimacy. As a symbol of how concern is packaged so that 'we' all take responsibility but very few people take any, it is perfect.

PS: Ms R is of course available to any celebrity who wishes to pay her vast sums to write Letters of Concern about any matter.