I am a laughing gnome and you cannot catch me

Take note – story published 6 years ago

In a moment of weakness last night I succumbed to emotional blackmail by Karlis Dagilis, the former head of the Pieci.lv radio station, to write something about their new charity fundraising campaign.

The best way to deal with this sudden addition to my workload is to pass the blackmail on to you, the readers of LSM's English language service, which I propose to do in a few paragraphs' time, so prepare yourselves.

Before ramping up the emotional content, I need to declare that I am being paid for this service. My fee in this case is the playing of the musical track of my choice on the radio station, what in my day was referred to as a "top tune by a popular beat combo from the hit parade" but which now I understand is called a "download".

This has a nominal value of 5 euros as the campaign is called "Dod Pieci" or "Gimme 5". Like when young people slap each other instead of giving a firm handshake. And yet also 5 euros.

I think I have explained this sufficiently. 

People can 'Dod Pieci' via the internet, by calling the Pieci.lv hotline or by text message. You choose a musical track, you get it played, you pay €5.

Last year this raised more than €130,000 for charity.

The clever thing is that instead of being pleased everyone will think them generous (which is usually the unspoken appeal of charity donations), the people choosing music can instead take pleasure from believing everyone thinks they are really cool for knowing such an awesome track.

This, of course, is deluded. In reality everyone listening will agree your musical taste is either lamentably predictable or hilariously pretentious.

Therefore I had no hesitation in choosing David Bowie's Laughing Gnome, which has all the necessary qualities: an obscure track by a major and influential artist that is truly awful and yet annoyingly catchy.

Another part of Pieci's fundraising is a sort of DJ-a-thon in which they lock themselves in a perspex box outside the railway station from which they broadcast for a few days. They make out it is a feat of endurance worthy of Houdini, but it looks quite enjoyable.

There is always the risk that anyone hurrying to catch a train to Tukums may inadvertently see a DJ taking a dump in the transparent toilet cubicle, but it's a small price to pay for charity. 

In any case I am more familiar with the 'Dod PIeci' campaign than Pieci.lv's gang of post-pubescent do-gooders suspect.

I wrote and voiced a promotional film for last year's campaign that I confidently informed the Latvian Radio bigwigs would definitely win them some awards. It won fewer awards than expected: i.e. none.

I must assume someone bribed the judges - with considerably more than David Bowie's Laughing Gnome, to be sure.

As more than one person has remarked, this outstandingly abysmal year began with Bowie's death from cancer and has steadily deteriorated ever since, to the extent that you have to wonder if glam rock was the only force holding the universe together.

Appropriately, the money from this year's Dod Pieci is all going to the cancer charity "Dzivibas koks" (Tree of life) which gives psychological help to cancer patients. It's a very worthwhile cause, as the psychological aspects of cancer treatment are often overlooked.

The combination of cancer and pop music put me in mind of a conversation I had a couple of years ago when I was at the bedside of someone in the final stages of the disease. It was the end of June, during the Glastonbury festival. Despite his extreme pain and the certainty that he had only a few days to live, he was anxious to listen to The Who closing the show.

"They've still got it," he said.

"Yes, but Roger Daltrey doesn't quite have the energy he used to have," I said without thinking.

There was a brief pause, timed to perfection, then: "He still looks pretty energetic from where I'm lying."

If too much of the above reads like an an in-joke between media types, I apologize. The headline was self-indulgent, but at least it got your attention and it's unlikely I'll ever get a chance to use it again. Even if you hated this feature, please donate €5 anyway because I would much rather raise money for charity by shutting up or locking myself in a plastic box for a couple of days with a selection of really bad music.



The Dod Pieci campaign runs December 15-21 and you can take a look at it live online here 24/7. 

You can watch a live feed of the Dod Pieci event HERE.

The official website of this year's Dod Pieci campaign is here: https://dod.pieci.lv/ (It's in Latvian but it works well in Google Translate). It has details of how to request a song and donate - or if you happen to pass the studio by Riga central railway station you could always just hand them some cash in person.


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