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Sunday January 6, 2013

The naked truth about racy calendars

It may seem curmudgeonly but when I heard about a bunch of Spanish mothers baring all for a calendar to raise funds for a school bus service, I gave a mighty groan. What is this rather banal obsession with stripping off for worthy causes?

Following the inspirational Calendar Girls story it seems that every woman, man and his dog have decided to strike gold by following in the footsteps of the infamous Women’s Institute members rather than coming up with a creative and innovative fundraising idea for themselves. We’re not talking the Pirelli calendar here. Most of those who now take off their togs with alarming alacrity are usually middle-aged and overweight- that applies to both men and women. My concern is less to do with prudery than aesthetics. I haven’t used a calendar since the dark ages but I doubt that a saucy, voluptuous 50-something wearing suspenders and a policeman’s helmet, grinning from a wall as I sup my porridge, would lighten up my day.
On a brief google search I discovered scores of those who were only too happy to get off their kit for the pages of a calendar –students, housewives, firefighters, policewomen, RAF and Royal Navy personnel, Tesco workers and internet entrepreneurs. Stone the crows, even a group of Morris dancers threw caution to the wind and abandoned clogs, hats, handkerchiefs, sashes and bells for such a money-raising caper. So perhaps these days titillating calendars really are the only speedy and lucrative way to make a few bob for charity which brings me back to the desperate mothers of Valencia.

As one of Spain’s worst hit economic regions, severe austerity measures have seen the culling of many educational services including a subsidised bus route for school pupils attending Evaristo Cañlatayud school in the municipality of Montserrat. In September transport was denied to those pupils living within a 1.8 kms radius of the school meaning that some have been forced to walk up to three miles across unpaved roads to reach the school each day. In a bid to get the service reinstated – a cost of €43,000 per year – a group of mothers produced a raunchy calendar depicting them all in a state of undress which so far has apparently raised enough to fund the service for three months.

I wonder what their partners and children thought of the venture? A swell of pride or toe-curling embarrassment? Were the women happy to see themselves looking foxy in print? It’s just a thought but if those same mothers had instead involved the local community in staging a series of fundraising events such as a sports day, luncheon, Christmas carol concert or panto, fashion show and cake sale in the town, perhaps even with celebrity support, might they have raised as much money or maybe even more? We’ll never know but such initiatives might have created a lot of goodwill locally .

I wish the mothers luck with their plucky efforts to get the bus service back on its feet. Still, next time they need to kick start a fundraising campaign perhaps they might consider a calendar featuring- oh horror of horrors- fully clothed people? You never know, it could just catch on.

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