Can I stop being nice to people now?

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Well, would you believe it? It’s only the bloomin’ last day of January.

We’ve almost survived the most maligned month of the year and we’re teetering on the brink of February with its Pancake Day, Valentine’s Day and, according to my extensive research, World Ferris Wheel Day. The fun just doesn’t stop.

Of course the end of January also marks the fact that I’ve managed to do 31 Random Acts of Joy in a row. Phew.

Ok, some have been less elaborate than others. I think lending a friend some DVDs was definitely a delight in the (very small) details moment, but I do believe that every act has had a positive impact on someone. Even if I wasn’t privy to that impact: did anyone find the cinema vouchers or the notebook please?! Of course, I’ve probably had the greatest benefits myself. My January has been full of new friends, new challenges and even making a national newspaper. Fabulous.

So what, now? Do I breathe a sigh of relief and go back to drowning puppies and tripping up small children? Of course not. Well, not unless they trip me up first. The month joy was only the start of it. The Random Acts of Joy will, of course, continue and I’ll be seeking new ways to inspire and delight as well. It’s an exciting time and I look forward to sharing it with you in my twice weekly posts. Of course, I’m also looking forward to receiving details of the Random Acts of Joy that you witness and undertake. We’re all part of this revolution together.

And what about my final Random Act of Joy for January? This one had to be a gift for you, my fellow revolutionists. So it seemed fitting that today would be the first spin of the tombola to choose the recipient of the first Make Me Joyful care package. I had so much fun putting it together. So not to ruin the surprise for the lucky winner then I’m not going to reveal all the contents. But suffice to say it included some beautiful stationery. You can see local girl Alice Gabb‘s super special telegrams in the picture below. I hope these and the other little gifts, carefully wrapped in tissue paper, will make my mystery lady from Washington State smile.

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I’ll be giving a full debrief of the highs and lows of January over the next couple of days. It may even feature a video (if I can get my curls to cooperate) but until then let me know what I can do to make you more joyful in the comments below.

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Urban cookie collective

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After the excitement (and mortification) of the great big daffodil giveaway, I decided that it was time to put myself out there and channel my inner Chugger once more. As I’ve mentioned, direct marketing isn’t one of my core competencies so I was very fortunate to be joined by another lovely (and better at stopping people in the street than me) friend Melissa.*

Together we gave away cookies.

Frankly, I’ve surprised myself that we’ve reached the penultimate day in January and this is the first time that I’ve busted out the baked goods. Since receiving my first baking set aged 4 (I still have the cookie cutter), I’ve been transfixed by the alchemy of butter, sugar, eggs and flour. Early photos show me happily standing on a kitchen chair with my bowl and wooden spoon, merrily mixing away. I’d share the pictures here, but it was the mullet-era (thanks Mum) and I’m wan to reveal myself looking like the lovechild of a small German boy and Ziggy Stardust. Gender confusing haircuts aside, I am so happy that I learned to bake from such an early age. For me, giving food really is giving love.

Given that we’re nearly at the end of the month and resolutions are mostly forgotten, I thought that people would be more open to sweet treats. And so it was that we ended up in Carnaby Street with 60 homemade cookies and the hope that none of them contained cat hair.

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As with the daffodils, there were some people who simply didn’t want to know. Or maybe they’d just heard about the potential cat fur risk, but the others were fabulous. There was laughter, chatter and surprise as we lured people in with our biscuit barrel of treats. There was even a moment of supreme joyfulness when the girl who took the last cookie gave it away to someone who’d narrowly missed out. Oh London, I love you and your people at times like this.

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After 20 minutes and left with nothing but crumbs, we drifted back into the pavement traffic, Tupperware safely stowed and with the fabulous feeling that a small group of people were going home thinking that life can’t be so bad when there are cookies given out with love.

*I’m so lucky to have so many generous, gifted and spirited friends. Thank you.

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A man walks into a bar…

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I’ve found that some of my least joyful moments are when I’m travelling on public transport. In my fantasy life I have a driver but, until then, my reality is obnoxious wheely case usage and becoming more intimate with fellow passengers than appropriate without being taken for dinner first.

There are moments of joy when I have a fabulous chat with a stranger or I catch someone’s eye and smile or I see someone giving up their seat or helping with luggage, but the Tube still needs to become more joyful.

Obviously, leaving suprises for people to find on the Underground isn’t the most sensible practice. Much though I wanted to deposit one of my books on the Tube yesterday, people are scathing enough when some poor soul ‘selfishly’ decides to end it all at rush hour, let alone when someone precipitates a city-wide security scare because they think it cheery to hide a free novel. No. Any transport act has to be done with care.

And so, I decided to tell jokes.

Not taking the mic at the end of the carriage wearing a sequinned jacket and using my best “Take my mother in law… no, take her” line. When it comes to the Joyful Revolution I’m all in, but even I wouldn’t have the guts for that. Instead, I was inspired by fab friend Alan and a conversatuon we’d had earlier in the week. We wondered whether anyone buys joke books any more? As a child I remember having loads of them. Full of silly one-liners and knock-knock jokes that, some may say, have made me the comedy genius I am today. Hah! Joke books or not, a quick search online yielded gems such as:

I said to the gym teacher: “Can you teach me to do the splits?” He said: “How flexible are you?”. I said: “I can’t make Tuesdays.”

Boom boom.

Surely no one can stare into the middle distance in misery when faced with jokes like that?

I printed out a bunch of them and sneakily tied them to the seat arms of the platform benches and the poles in the carriage. This was done shiftily and with more than a little embarassment, but even if people were chuckling at my odd behaviour rather than at the jokes then it was still a job well done.

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What joke never fails to make you smile? I have a slightly surreal one involving two oranges that I learnt when I was about ten and, even now, it makes me laugh until I cry. Share yours in the comments below.

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