Opinion: Time to go back to the trusty old Rolex

Peter Stanford, a writer and broadcaster and sits on various trustee boards

I once had a thick silver bangle that I wore all the time as a kind of adolescent protest because I had fallen into a grown-up job at a very young age. It wasn't appropriate attire for the new editor of the Catholic Herald and that's why I loved sporting it. That and the clunking sound it made on the table during meetings to discuss the latest fall in the number of missionary subscriptions to the paper.

So, all in all, I'm naturally pretty well disposed towards bracelets.

Why, then, do I find myself irritated by the latest fashion craze for silicone charity bracelets? Blue for anti-bullying (as worn by Wayne Rooney), black and white for anti-racism (as sported by Rio Ferdinand) and, coolest of all, white with the words "make poverty history" (de rigueur at any music or film award ceremony to set off your tuxedo or Versace frock).

First up, there's the commercial exploitation. These latest accessories of choice are sold by charities for a £1 donation, but limited production runs mean they go for up to £30 on eBay. Then there's the sheer mindlessness of it all. Wear your ribbons, badges or bracelets, by all means, as the outward sign of inner grace, but don't let them become the story.

Perhaps I'm being cynical. As a test, I think I'll get a batch made up with some less immediately appealing slogans that nonetheless represent the work undertaken by other parts of the third sector. How about instead of "make poverty history" something like "cut prison sentences" or "hug a schizophrenic". I can't quite see them featuring on the red carpet outside the Oscars, can you? It's a bit too close to home. Time to go back to the trusty Rolex.

It's all about the difference between making easy gestures and highlighting tougher questions - the gap between those, such as Bob Geldof, Bono or Elton John, who have made a real difference, and those names who simply want to don the mantle of concern as long as it doesn't take any longer than the few seconds needed to slip on a bracelet. Isn't there something slightly absurd about stars flaunting their concern for ending world poverty as they turn up to ceremonies that cost a fortune, make a fortune and ultimately mean very little? Axe the party and start changing the world with the money saved. That, I seem to recall, was the plea that George C Scott made when he refused to collect his Best Actor Oscar for Patton in 1970.

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