Whilst attending the funeral of his distant Swiss relative, a journalist, writer and general geezer around town - Londoner Danny Wallace - heard of how the deceased old man once had a dream of starting a commune. These dreams never came to fruition however, and at the time of his death the old man was seen by the rest of his family as an amiable nutter, and his plan of forming a harmonious collective were forgotten. Except by Danny, that is.

One afternoon, when extremely bored (and obviously, as a journalist, having no real work to get on with) Danny decided to honour the memory of his dead relative and try to start a collective of his own. He placed an advert in a local newspaper which read simply:

This is as far as his plans went. Danny had no idea why people would join him, or what they would do once joined, but then the replies started arriving. The only criteria for joining was to send a passport sized photograph to Danny, along with your name and address. As Danny became more and more astonished with the increasing number of "joinees" he realised he would sooner or later have to let people know exactly what it was they were joining. After a period of toying with the idea of building an army of evil, he decided to instead use his collective as a force for good.

Apart from this criteria, joinees are free to do as they wish, an ideology which has resulted in Danny (or The Leader as he is now known to his followers) and his followers carrying out random acts of kindness whenever, and whereever they see fit. According to the Join Me website (to be found at www.join-me.co.uk)the collective has so far carried out over 10,000 good deeds, a number which is steadily rising all the time.

While not looking to perform earth shattering good deeds that benefit the human race, the collective uses its power in a more personal way, simply looking to provide a positive influence and brighten up the lives of individual citizens of London, and indeed the world, who feel disillusioned with the everyday selfish mundanity of modern life. Even something as simple as buying an old man a cup of tea, or offering your seat on a crowded bus, is smiled upon by Danny and his "Karma Army".

Following the success of the collective in the UK, the word is now being spread throughout the world by jetsetting joinees and, of course, the powers of the internet and email. JOIN NOW by emailing info@join-me.co.uk and you too can make the world a better place by becoming part of this amazing force for good (and help boost Danny's bank balance with a procession of spin-off books). As Danny's grandad used to sing:

Recently, there was a post on Twitter about how Scandinavians are unlikely to offer food to guests. It was followed by a map, showing European regions by food offering possibility. This led to an online storm where people from food offering cultures were making snarky comments while the Scandinavians explained why that practice developed.

Here in Nigeria, food is offered to guests. In fact, offering food to people is so important that it is considered extremely bad form to eat in public and not offer some to people around even if one does not know them. It is so ubiquitous, passengers in public transport would offer their food round.

Now here is the thing, except if one has a prior relationship with the surrounding people, the offer is not genuine. It is made with the expectation that it will not be accepted. Another thing is that some parents warn their kids against eating outside the home. This warning could be to avoid creating an impression of poverty (which is the reason for the Scandinavian practice) thus shaming the parents, or gluttony; or to prevent the child from consuming poison or juju since some tribes here have a strong streak of paranoia. I am sometimes tempted to accept a stranger's offer, just to see what the reaction would be.

The culture is changing though. There was a time when if guests are offered food, they accept with feigned reluctance. Now, people either accept or reject firmly. People are becoming more like the German and less than the Irish person in this video.

The offer is made by saying either "join me" or "come and eat". In Northern Muslim areas, the offeror says Bismillah while gesturing towards the food.


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