Apart from scant conversations about the earthquake over the newspaper or TV coverage in a café, we have been remarkably removed from the horrendous scenes in Sichuan. We checked whether it was appropriate to continue with Happystacking in its current form, but the consensus seems to be that life goes on.

However this morning at 9.00am the whole village turned out for a public donation ceremony outside the theatre, on the steps where we will be performing tomorrow night. Where Harold will be pumping his Beyonce Booty Shake.

On the lower platform, which is a sort of public outdoor stage, they had placed two ballot boxes on tables. The local equivalent of Celine Dion was blasting out from the sound system stretched out from the Workers’ Union next door. There was a speech and the village listened and applauded. Then one by one the villagers walked up to the boxes to make their donation to the appeal.

In contrast to the furtiveness of English giving, this was full frontal, with each donor holding their note fully stretched and readable as they dropped it into the slot for the attendant cameras. More than this, the giver was then required to sign a sheet and state how much they gave.

Again, like the public electricity bills, not a bad thing.

We all went and we all gave 100 RMB each, that's about £7.50 each. A lot of people gave less and some gave more. It was a curiuous demostration of wealth yet a warming confirmation of community cohesion and clarity.


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