Halfway there

Lord McConnell

I am writing this as I travel from Scotland to London, Monday ‘lunchtime’, halfway through Live Below the Line 2013.

My 5 day challenge began on Friday at midnight, and after a weekend of porridge, soup and a baked potato cautiously shared across two days, I am probably lighter but certainly nervous about coping in London until I finish on Wednesday night.

Eating a lot less than usual, and – crucially – organising and cooking it, is a lot easier over a weekend relaxing in Scotland than during a week in London filled with Board meetings, media work, travelling around and the day to day events that occur in the office.

The story so far


Breakfast            Porridge with raisins

Lunch            Lentil and veg soup

Dinner            Baked potato and salad (no dressing)

1 cup of tea


Breakfast            Porridge with raisins

Lunch            Lentil and veg soup

Dinner            Baked potato and beans

2 cups of tea

To take my mind off food and drink without losing energy, I decided to start my box set of Homeland Series 1 and it was a great distraction. Nine episodes later and I am totally hooked.

Many friends have offered food to help, but I have had to explain that the rules don’t allow this. The £1 each day must account for the cost of all food and drink consumed. So I had to turn down the bacon roll on the Arran Ferry I caught at 8.20 this morning, and ignore the splendid spread on display in the BA Lounge at Glasgow Airport.

Being in the airport produced a different challenge. After emptying my bottle of tap water at security I found that the toilets have no cold taps so I was facing three hours with only my banana to sustain me. But then I remembered I was in Scotland, found the whisky bar and of course there was tap water available there. No self respecting Scot puts bottled water in their whisky!

With thousands of others, I am taking part in Live Below the Line, an annual challenge organized by the Global Poverty Project which campaigns across the world to end extreme poverty. The basic purpose is to raise awareness, and at the same time raise some money for the development charities taking part.

Obviously my experience this week does not equate to the lives of over 1 billion people who have to live on less than £1 a day worldwide, but I hope this campaign will encourage more people to do even a little more to end this scandal. Surely in the early years of the 21st Century we can ensure all children have food, health, shelter and safety, giving them a chance in life.

Because the worst poverty is found in conflict affected states, this year I am raising money for a conflict prevention project in Burundi. Peace Direct have made a short video explaining the purpose and importance of this effort.  You can view it here

For a small amount of money we can provide hope to schoolchildren across Burundi. Children who want the same as teenagers everywhere, but whose life chances are threatened by that history of conflict, and the fact that Burundi is the tenth poorest place on the planet.

If you would like to learn more please go to


Now, back to that banana………yum!

6 comments for “Halfway there

  1. MilesJSD
    30/04/2013 at 4:16 pm

    This £1 a day brief-penance annually is full of Holes;

    please read my submission pointing out the neglected Necessity of Percentage-Thinking and Legislating in Lord Tyler’s blog about “Words” and precision of ” meanings”.

  2. GaretHugHowell
    30/04/2013 at 6:39 pm

    I live on £3.50 a day, for food needs at all times;most OAPs do. It would probably be about
    £5 for a couple.

    I could live on less than £3 per day but I would have to live far more on whole grain/whole food rice than I do at present, and of course on potatoes from my own garden.
    If I had better convictions about vegetarianism it would certainly be less than £3.

  3. maude elwes
    02/05/2013 at 7:45 pm

    People in this country live on barely more than that and the cost of living here is one of the highest in the world.

    So, in effect, many British people are living on less than those you are going to bat for. Time more people in powerful positions, who receive the benefit of the British tax payers money, began caring about the poverty stricken here in this country of ours. And how the school children of those here on a meagre subsistence would get hope if someone showed they cared about them.

    As the rich get richer the poor get poorer, right here in the UK.

    About time a bit of love was shown to them.

    IDS said he could live on £53 per week. Some hopes.

    • Lord Blagger
      03/05/2013 at 2:27 pm

      Hint: Stop taxing them

  4. GaretHugHowell
    04/05/2013 at 7:43 pm

    I sat in the bus station “Subway” scoffing one of their 12″ filled laoves, and realized at the end of it, that a young and emaciated woman had been watching me all the time I had been eating from outside the window.
    As I walked out she ghosted me for a moment or two, so next time she will get an invitation to join me for a “good meal” as the subway dishes are called.

    They are good but they are still fast food.
    They are not slow food. If it was slow food
    the girl outside would not have been outside.
    As it is she will p[robably ask if she can take the food I offer her, home to eat later,
    which defeats the object of my ensuring that she will eat at all.
    In asking that, she might well be giving it to the dog when she gets there, or chucking it in a park bin on the way home, which would be wasteful. She would however be observing one condition of the anti-fast food campaign in taking it home, in theory, to eat slowly.

    There must be an analogy here for the noble lord to observe in his fasting (no! not that kind of fast-ing!)
    However little the noble lord eats he is still conveying the idea of fast food to the people he chooses to patronize. The smallness of his diet may have more to do with own efforts not to eat “fast” food than anything to do with the dietary needs of African people whom he will never meet to ensure that they eat what he gives them!

    Refugees in war torn or famine areas are indeed eating fast food… and how! That is the city on the border well to the north east of Burundi, towards Ethiopia.

    The house of lords restaurants do provide “slow” food,as far as I know ,but slow food at home would be best of all.

  5. GaretHugHowell
    08/05/2013 at 2:27 pm

    So I had to turn down the bacon roll on the Arran Ferry I caught at 8.20 this morning, and ignore the splendid spread on display in the BA Lounge at Glasgow Airport.

    Fas…ting to avoid f…ast food! Well done, but why inflict it on the Africans!?

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