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Last Updated: Monday, 11 August, 2003, 05:29 GMT 06:29 UK
My London: 'Hit-and-run kindness'
Danny Wallace
Danny Wallace now has more than 3,000 'joinees' across the world
When Danny Wallace, 26, got bored he sent off an ad reading simply: 'Join Me. Send a passport photo'. A year and a half later his east London flat is the headquarters for a global internet-based group who carry out good deeds for strangers each week.

There is a social barrier in places like London where if you see someone struggling with something, part of your brain goes 'I want to help'.

But the trained part of the brain says: 'They will think you are a nut job or are going to mug them' so you walk away.

Join Me is about giving you an excuse to do something.

It's kind of a cult that happened by accident and is now a collective of about 3,000 people around the world who do my bidding every Friday.

I think in London it is too easy to just keep your head down and walk a little bit quicker
Danny Wallace
I send them to undertake a random act of kindness towards complete strangers. I call them Good Fridays and make them sign a Good Friday agreement.

I'm usually out on a Friday night so I go for one of the traditional acts which has become standard - the unsolicited pint.

You would be sitting in a pub and see an old fella in the corner and walk up with a pint of whatever they are drinking, say: 'I've got you a pint' and walk away.

The look of bewilderment on their face is a pleasure to see.

There can be some suspicion, but I think that was mostly in the early days when I didn't know how to do it properly.

One of Danny's 'random acts of kindness'
One act of kindness was giving an old lady a pot plant
I would walk up quite nervously like I was doing something wrong and I didn't know when to leave.

It's hit-and-run kindness, you have to walk up with confidence and humour and don't get in their faces. You say: 'This is for you', then you go.

I work west and I live east and tend to get off the Tube halfway through so I'm all around. I'm omnipresent thanks to London's marvellous Tube network.

Join Me is without geographical boundaries, but there are quite a few joinees in London and I get quite a lot of stories about things they have done on the Tube or on the buses.

One lady got on the bus and put a £10 note down and said: 'That's for me and the next nine people' so at every stop, everyone who got on was told it was paid for.

'Social barrier'

A lot of people were doing this sort of thing anyway and go to great lengths to tell me.

They get quite a lot out of it, an excuse or reason to do something nice for a complete stranger because they've got the confidence to walk up and start chatting.

I think in London it is too easy to just keep your head down and walk a little bit quicker and get angry at people for not walking to the same step as you.

If people step on your foot on the Tube they are an inch away but they won't say sorry because they don't want to speak out.

This gives you the excuse to be a bit more confident and not care about that social barrier.

Join Me now has members in countries such as France, Belgium, Norway and Puerto Rico. Mr Wallace hopes to take it to America next.


My London is a series of features about life in the city which will be on BBC News Online every Monday. If you have a story suggestion please send an e-mail to: londonnews@bbc.co.uk.




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