Pay it Forward… sort of

February 10, 2010

There’s a film called Pay it Forward. I haven’t seen it. I like it. Here’s the trailer. It does for me.

Just the trailer makes me cry. I’ll maybe avoid the film in case of severe disappointment. Take it from me, it’s a good film.

The kindness of strangers. That crops up a lot if you Google it. It’s part of the last line in A Streetcar Named Desire. And here’s me thinking I’d thought it up. The kindness of strangers. There’s lots of kind people out there, and yesterday I was the recipient of such a kind act it made me want to cry. Want to? Oh heck. I did.

A parcel had arrived for me at my agents. I went to pick it up. And someone I don’t even know had bought me a camera. A camera! From a stranger! I was overwhelmed. And I am now as I type this.

A few weeks ago my bag was stolen. My camera was in it. I prefer taking photos to taking cameras. I have been a little lost without it. I wrote a blog post about… well, not about my camera being stolen, but I did mention it in passing. And, a very very kind person bought me a new one  and left the message “This is to thank you for many years of entertainment and to replace your stolen camera. With love from some fans.”

I expect you’re crying now.

This is such a kind and unexpected act. It might be one of those moments where everything’s great and surprising and then… well, you wake up.

Thank you.

And thank you too to all my friends, including Professor Yard and Sarah, who offered me loans of cameras until I sorted myself out. Twitter, blogging… anyone who thinks these things are somehow unreal communities needs to get out more.

What can I do in return? Well, I now have a camera bought for me by you. I am your photographer. I am declaring myself, with no guarantees of any quality control, to be the People’s Photographer. You, dear and kind readers (and also the not so kind and dear ones) let me know what you need pictures of. I will take photos for you and get them to you within one week of your demand. All you have to do is tell me what you want photographed and where to send it. Be as inventive as you like, but try to avoid geographically challenging tasks. Be creative, but avoid portraits of unobtainable people. (If, say, you want a pic of George Clooney on top of Everest, well, I just won’t do it.)

It could be fun.

Right, I’m off to learn about my lovely new camera, and in a day or so put up picture number one. feel free to offer suggestions for that too.

Here’s an old picture from my last camera, taken in America at Christmas. No relevance, it just entertains me.

Santana Row people

Oh, and I think I know who you are, and if you are who I think you are, and you live East Dulwich way, you must, at the least, let me take you and your husband for a drink. And thank you so much. It’s one of the kindest things anyone has ever done for me. Of course you could be mad, but I doubt it.

I’m a comedian and here I am getting all soppy and sincere.

Did I mention that my stolen bag also had in it a car and a house?


I walked by this sad little toy in the street today. You may not be able to read the piece of paper stuck to it. It says; please take. In working order. Well, sad to say, I didn’t take. For a few reasons. Firstly, I don’t think it was aimed at me. Secondly, I don’t know what it is, or what it is supposed to do, and so I won’t know if it is in working order or not. I hope it goes to a good home and to someone who understands what it is and what it does.

I think we should all have badges that say “Please take. In working order”. We don’t have to wear them all the time. Just when and if needed.


January 9, 2009


So here’s the set. Built in this order; K9, Tardis, Cyberman head, Dalek. The instructions recommended this order. They said to start with K9 because it was the easiest. What they didn’t say was that the Dalek was- hey, my niece and nephew may read this- let’s say, impossible.

I would like to exterminate this Dalek. I would like to crush it. All these models require no glue- just press out the card pieces and clip them together.Oh, except for the Dalek.

If you buy this kit for anyone, treat it like a UXB. Hand it over and then retreat to some distance. Don’t approach it again until all parts have gone off. Give it as a gift, then run. Leave it to the mums and dads.

Or, be sneaky. Show them how easy it is. Make K9. Hey, make the Tardis. Even have a go at the Cyberman head. Show them it’s do-able. Then run. Fast. Far. And don’t visit again for six months.

Oh, I persevered. I got my brother-in-law to lend a hand. We both struggled. At one point I superglued my fingers together. I know, just press out and clip blah blah blah… like I say, hand over the present and run. Leave the country.

Auntie Claire, you are bad. You are a bad woman hiding back there in the UK. I’ll remember this. You can run but you can’t hide.

Santana Row

January 8, 2009


No! Not the San Franciscan Latin rock group arguing again. Santana Row is San Jose’s swankiest street of shops. And it’s just a little bit weird.

Firstly, it seems to be far away from what you may think of as the centre of San Jose, or Downtown San Jose; it’s just, sort of, in the middle of nowhere. A street built about five years ago, to supposedly be Northern California’s answer to Rodeo Drive, according to this Wikipedia entry. But what question was Rodeo Drive asking?

There’s fancy shops here, and valet parking and a cinema. And that’s about it. Above the shops are very fancy apartments where people who want to live the Santana Row lifestyle live. They seem to be impossibly glamorous women (who may be 400 years old) and men who walk two dogs at a time… but dogs so small and so manicured, you may at first glance think there’s been a breakout from the Pokemon shop. The dogs are left outside while their owners have coffee and cake here-


And sometimes, the dogs are blown away.

I’ve just realised I started this off with a firstly. Should I go back and delete, or just own up to the absence of a secondly?

I don’t have a secondly.

I have been here twice in the last two days. To go to the cinema. I have seen Doubt, and I have seen Frost/Nixon. I think I will write about them tomorrow.

… Oh, an afterthought. Santana Row does have one of my favourite shops. It’s called Anthrapologie and there’s absolutely nothing in there for me. But it is good for presents. And I like its name. Oh, and I like Urban Outfitters. And Borders.

There is no raccoon here.

December 28, 2008


This was one of my Christmas gifts to my niece and nephew. There is no raccoon here. I took a photo of it. Look! You can see it. But if you try to pick it up, it isn’t there.That’s because there is no raccoon here. It doesn’t have to be a raccoon. You can choose whatever you like to not be here. What you choose will be somewhere else. But you’ll see it here, even though it’s not here. And that is the explaining about it.

Christmas gifts for men

November 29, 2008

simon-pipe1 After trusting me to write a piece on toiletries for men for her daily eco glossy website,, my friend Sarah asked me to write some stuff on eco Christmas gifts for ladies to buy for men. You can find my top five pics here.

This get up is what I wore for a BBC3 show called 28 acts in 28 minutes. You can see our minute here. I think it makes me look like a low rent Dylan Jones.

All the canvases for the Willow Foundation Stars on Canvas 2008 event are up for auction from 1pm today. Go on, bid, if you can afford to. All money raised provides special days for young people with life threatening conditions. You can help a great charity and also own an original piece of art. With nearly three hundred to choose from there should be something to take your fancy. Contributors include Theo Walcott, Sir Richard Attenborough, Matt lucas, Frank lampard, Eric Idle, Sally Gunnelll, Ricky Hatton, Arsene Wenger, Timmy Mallet… and David Van Day!, Gordon Ramsey (Blimey! When did he find time?), Nicolas Anelka, Hazel Blears (MP for Salford, hurray!), Jo Brand, Steve Coogan, Sir Henry Cooper, Matt Damon… and me and Trev. Take a look here. Bid. Please.


Here’s three. One by Ricky Hatton, one by Trev Neal, and one by Craig Cash. See if you can guess who did which. Oh, they’re signed. And I’ve listed them in order. Doh!


What’s this? A jar full of bits of paper? Well, yes. Coloured bits of paper, each one with a message. Or rather, a reason; reasons from the giver of this gift as to why they are a friend of mine.

I was given it last Christmas. And I was given it with instructions. Each day I can open it and read one reason. Then it goes back in, and the day after that I can have another go.

So here’s the thing; the reasons go on for ever. Let’s say there’s fifty in there; that doesn’t mean that on day 50 I’ll have read them all. Sometimes I might read the same one three days in a row. Some days I might forget to read; or not feel like it. One thing I’ve never done; read more than one a day. And I’ve not kept a record or chart or graph to know when logically I must have read them all.

So, I will never know when I have read them all. I could read one a day for the next fifty years and there could be one small reason, hidden away, somewhere in that airtight jar.