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Walking the Tightrope: Comic

Sally Codman and her family are deeply moved by the BBC's Comic Relief programme - a fund raising effort to help people world-wide who stuggle to maintain life.

Laugh? – we laughed ‘till we cried. No, I tell a lie, because watching Comic Relief we laughed and then we cried and I suspect a lot of other people did too.

The box of tissues that lives in our lounge didn’t know if it was coming or going as we slid it back and forth between us. You’ve got to hand it to them; the producers of Comic Relief are at the top of their game when it comes to manipulating the Public’s feelings for some very good causes.

Peter Kaye and the Little Britain crew had us smiling and giggling at their antics, before Lenny Henry and Davina McAll took us on a heart-rending tour of the Dark Continent and the darker parts of the U.K.

And parts of our world are very dark. I’ve seen shanty towns made of cardboard and corrugated iron before - but I didn’t know there are people in Africa living in houses made from rope and plastic bags.

Even Lenny Henry’s larger-than-life beaming smile faded as he visited the families living in these shacks. But Henry’s smile was back as big and bright as ever as he chatted to young girls, rescued from the streets, as they settled in for a safe night’s sleep at one of the charity’s refuges, all wearing matching pajamas.

It was street children like these who really tugged at my heart strings. Comic Relief workers were filmed touring the streets of one city, picking the most vulnerable youngsters to take back to their rescue centre. It was, of course, a case of too many kids and too few places and so the ‘older’ boys, lads just a bit bigger than Only Son, were left behind.

I couldn’t stop thinking that Eldest Daughter, currently on a Gap year in South Africa, was seeing these sights first hand and not through a camera lens in the safety of a comfortable lounge.

As the evening went on, and the tissue box was almost empty, it was tempting to ‘tune out’ during the harrowing bits and just enjoy the funny parts but I insisted it was an all or nothing show.

Until then Comic Relief for my kids meant a non-uniform day at school, sponsoring people doing wacky things and wearing their red noses. I felt it was important to understand the ‘relief’ part of the name and not just enjoy the comic bits.

You can, of course, visit Africa and close your eyes to the HIV/AIDS epidemic, just as you can visit almost any country in the world, or city in the U.K. and ‘tune out’ the bad, sad, bits that are difficult to cope with.

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