Tuesday, 20 July 2010

How to be like Michael Jackson (Not in terms of having a funfair in your back garden...but healing the world and making it a better place)

(Kudos to you if you know where the title of my blog comes from.)

So yeah, I've been a massive let-down in regards of keeping this blog updated. Sorry about that. But I'm back with a corker, or so I'm told.

So last Saturday, the lovely, lovely Mark Watson set us a challenge. He was off to Portugal for a week's holiday (goodness knows he deserved it) and felt that we needed something to occupy ourselves with. The basic message was that we had to change the world. Not hard, eh?

So with a heavy heart and even heavier tweets (This in reply to this. Oh and then this in reply to this in reply to this in reply to this in reply to this in reply to this in reply to this. Phew.) we waved a virtual goodbye to the Watsons and they went on their merry way.

I can happily confirm that no deaths occurred as a result of either mine or Katie's actions. As far as we're aware, anyway.

Back to my world changing though.

I didn't feel that I could change the world on my own though, so I hastily set up a Facebook group, alerting people to my plans. I worked hard on the 'blurb' for it. Look, who could resist this call to arms?:


Have you ever harboured a desire to change the world? Of course you have. Everybody has. If you haven't, get out right now. Go on, off with you. Much better. People assume that changing the world means that you have to solve world hunger, or find the cure for disease. Finding a way to live forever is a way to change the world. How about world peace? I'm not that ambitious.
The comedian Mark Watson has set the people who read his blog a challenge whilst he's on holiday in Portugal - change the world before he returns on Saturday.
I have a hideously cheery disposition. I reckon that sharing this can make the world a little bit nicer. I can't do this alone though. So this is why I'm coming to you.
Are you free on Friday morning? Yes? Good. Then come to the designated meeting place at the designated time. We're going to spread some happiness. I'm envisaging free hugs and unexpected compliments. If anyone else has any ideas, they're more than welcome. I shall post more details later. If you're interested, let me know. Please invite everyone you know, especially if they can make it to Plymouth on Friday. And if anyone's got any local media contacts...you know what to do


The answer to the "who could resist this call to arms?" question - EVERYONE. Every single person who agreed to be there on Friday bottled it. The people who were most up for it were totally unable to make it because of logistical issues - so thank you to Aislinn, Misha and Katie for just being ace. Please move closer to Plymouth.

This lack of support meant that I had to roll out Plan B. YES. I had anticipated that people might be a bit rubbish (for the record, that's not pessimism, it's forward planning. I'm optimistic. That's what I DO.) and had an idea or two.

So off I went to Poundland. Yes! Everything's £1.

I had the idea that I'd buy some supplies in order to help out my attempt. With £3 worth of products clutched in my teeny tiny hands (honestly, they're very small), I headed to the till and came across the most miserable woman I think I've ever met. Not even in an angry way, she just seemed really, really sad. So we finished the transaction and I said "Have a nice day", just to be met with a frown and a sigh. I hope that her day improved after that, I really do.

So I left Poundland and headed to 'The Gorge' cafe on Royal Parade. It's been a haunt of mine for years and it was rather difficult not to order my usual bacon sandwich. As a recently converted vegetarian, eating bacon would've not been very helpful. So with a pot of tea and Twitter for company, I set up the "World Changing Production Line":

So I had 200 record cards and a pack of 6 highlighters. And no inspiration. So, as per usual, I turned to the wonderful people of Twitter:

TWITTER: What compliments would you like to receive? Please help - you're changing the world. (Also, please RT? Thank you.) x

Some really lovely suggestions came back, mostly about people's appearances. I felt that I needed to have something that was less specific but just as nice. So building on the morning's earlier event, I decided to just wish people a nice day, something that I don't think is done enough in this day and age. So I drank tea and started creating these:

What I ended up with was 80 cards with nice messages on which I planned to hand out randomly to unsuspecting people in Plymouth. Whilst I was scrawling niceties on bits of paper, a couple of women came into the cafe looking confused, with a map which they spread out on the table. I listened in (sheerly for the purposes of possibly helping out, not because I'm a nosey bugger) but realised after a while that I'd have to actually go and talk to them to go and help out.

I got up from my table and sat down in the chair next to the two women, smiled politely and asked where they were trying to get to. Turns out that the place that they were looking for was on the same road as my old secondary school. That's what I'd call a WIN. So with the ladies happy, I went back to finishing my cards.

When I was done, I upped sticks and left a note on the table:

I thought that it was the best way to start. Y'know. I popped all of my cards into my coat pocket for ease of access and went to leave. I stopped myself, walked back on myself and handed the two women one of my cards and rushed out of the cafe.

So I was now out in the big wide world. Or Plymouth City Centre on a Friday morning to be more specific. I suddenly had a crisis of confidence but then thought, "No. I promised Mark that I'd do this. What would he think." I didn't want to disappoint him so pulled myself together and got on with it.

I walked up to the Piazza and scouted out a couple of 'targets' (I dubbed myself the Nice-sassin). The first was a woman sat on a bench smoking. I wandered over to her, clutching a card in my hand, stood in front of her, smiling, and held the card out. She looked up at me and I nodded towards the card. She took it from me and with that I walked off. I didn't see the point of saying anything to her, all my feelings were on the card - it seemed silly.

And that carried on for the next hour. There were a few highlights though. There was a guy outside Specsavers that shouted "THANK YOU! YOU'RE REALLY LOVELY!" after me as I skipped off. And then a girl about my age cried "Cheers" once I'd turned my back. There was another lady who had just finished a sandwich when I gave her a card. I also said to her "I'll pop that in the bin for you if you like..." "What?" "Your sandwich packet. I'll put it in the bin for you if you like." "Oh, thank you. That's really nice of you."

So yeah. That was my attempt at changing the world. If I didn't change it a lot, I'd like to think that I made it a little bit nicer. I'd like to say thanks to everyone who helped me out on the day, you're all brilliant.