Society Diary: London mayoral candidate promises to build trees on NCS success

24 Feb 2020 Voices

London in a few hundred years, once trees have been planted to cover up the success of NCS, or something

What a week of upsets it’s been: June Brown is leaving EastEnders “for good”, Liverpool lost a football match, and the fragile peace between vegans and meat-lovers has been thrust into the spotlight once again by the Vegan Society recommending that vegans get their own shelf in the office fridge. 

Diary has absolutely no idea whether the latter has been successfully implemented chez Civil Society Media, because the only safe way to open the office fridge is to close your eyes and pinch your nose, protecting yourself from any overripe food that’s been forgotten about, and giving you plausible deniability about the absolute state of the fridge. 

Anyway, in this week’s mildly amusing news with tenuous links to charities, we have exciting updates for fans of Rory Stewart and Speedo Mick. 


Last week Diary reported that its longstanding favourite Speedo Mick was back on the fundraising trail, walking from John O’Groats to Land’s End in what has become his usual attire of swimming trunks, cap and goggles. 

Well Diary can now report that Mick has almost achieved his mission, raising £257,000 in the process. The money will go to Leave the Light On, a charity set up by Mick to provide community projects that help disadvantaged young people to overcome isolation.

Cornwall Live reported earlier today that he was “dancing around the street of Truro”, which is of course in Cornwall, so he can’t be far from the finish line. Mick himself has said on his Facebook page that he expects to reach the Land’s End Hotel tomorrow around 1pm​​​. 

The journey has not been without its bumps in the road (weak as it is, that counts as a pun and Diary is taking it).

For a start, Diary’s UK readers will know that the weather has been absolutely filthy of late, with Storm Dennis following closely behind Storm Ciara. Here’s a video of Mick been buffeted by the elements.

And recently, Devon Live reported that poor sat nav connectivity meant he got lost and “was walking around in circles”.

On a more serious note, Mick opened up this week to the Liverpool Echo about his troubled past, including drink and drug problems. The paper reports that he found himself homeless at one point, and attempted suicide on a couple of occasions.

Fortunately all that is in the past, and Mick has been sober for 18 years now. And what a way to turn things around – go Mick!

An open invite to London mayoral candidate 

Rory Stewart, formerly the Left’s favourite Tory and now an independent candidate to be London mayor, announced that if he’s elected, young people will be forced to plant 12 trees each. It is unconfirmed if these trees will line a bridge over the River Thames. 

It is part of his plan for a cohort of “London Youth Corps”, which in his words, and Diary cannot stress this enough, is building on the “success” of National Citizen Service. 

Yes, not only will young Londoners have to take part in NCS, they will have to take part in a strange top-up scheme planting trees. He projects that this will lead to one million new trees for London, which will make the city pretty, save the environment, and, again in Rory’s words, tackle the “peer-pressure cooker of social media, an increasingly competitive job market, and - in some areas - the threat of gangs and drugs” faced by teenagers. 

In some ways this is a welcome development. Previously Rory’s vision for young people had sounded rather like a carbon copy of NCS, so it’s good to see he listened to whoever pointed out he was reinventing the wheel and made some changes. Though obviously he didn’t listen to anyone with any concerns about the NCS … wonder where he could possibly find one those! 

But never fear, one of Rory’s other media-grabbing policies is to kip on the sofas of Londoners, so Diary has stepped up to the plate and offered up the sofa in our office.

Hopefully while he’s here Rory will learn something about charities and volunteering and the challenges of working in the only street in London without a Pret. We might even make him clear out our fridge. 

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