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This is a question Random Acts of Kindness

Crackhouseceilidhband asks: Has anyone ever been nice to you, out of the blue, for no reason? Have you ever helped an old lady across the road, even if she didn't want to? Make me believe that the world is a better place than the media and experience suggest

(, Thu 9 Feb 2012, 13:03)
Pages: Popular, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1

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Friendly London
I think I might have posted this one before, but I'm not sure.

Many years ago I lived and worked in London.

One sunny day, I was doing my weekly bigshop in the Tesco that was on my drive home (the one by Coppets Woods, just off the North Circular in Finchley, fact fans). It was a Tuesday at about 5:30, so everyone in there seemed to be like me, doing a weekly shop for themselves on the way home from work.

I'd got my week's worth of food and found a checkout with only one person in the queue.

The person in question was a fairly good-looking woman in her early 20's in an expensive-looking business suit with a trolley full of Tesco Value stuff. This stuck me as a bit odd. The next thing that stuck me as a bit odd was she was unloading her trolley by going down her shopping list and putting each item on the belt in order, so was taking a while.

When everything was scanned and bagged, the checkout woman told this lass how much it was and the lass handed over one of those clear bankbags with some money in it.

The checkout woman counted out the cash and said "not enough", pushing the money back towards the lass. The lass looked confused for a minute and said "it should be enough". The checkout woman said "well, it's not". The lass aid "but what can I do?".

Now, it was clear to me that this lass had a learning difficulty of some desription. from what I could see, someone had given her a list of everything she needed and the money to pay for it. Which would imply she couldn't work this stuff out for herself. There was something about the way she spoke that was a bit of a giveaway as well.

Anyway, the panic set in for this poor lass. The checkout woman had told her that she would either need to make up the full amount or put something back. The lass was picking things out of her bags, looking at her list, then putting them back in the bag, clearly not being able to decide what to do. All the while, the checkout woman was constantly tutting and sighing, like "Tut, hurrr. Tut, hurrr. Tut, hurrr" and so on.

So I said to the lass "have you not got enough money, love?". She just looked away and looked like she might start to cry. So I said to the checkout woman "has she not got enough?" and stuck my hand in my pocket, pulling out a handful of shrapnel. The checkout woman stared at me open mouthed for a second and said no. I said "right, I'll cover it, how much do you need?" again, the checkout woman just stared at me like I'd grown a second head and said "what? why? it's 8 pence" so I gave her a 10p said "you can keep the change for the next person who comes up short".

The poor lass mumbled "thanks" and scuttled off, clutching her shopping. The whole time I was running my bigshop through the till, the checkout woman staring at me like I'd just done the most amazing magic trick she'd ever seen. When she handed me my recipt, she actually "did you know her?", I said no, she looked even more incredulous and said "then why did you do that?" I just walked away at that point.

I felt good at first for helping out someone in need, then felt very sad that she needed my help and the woman was so shocked that I showed a little bit of humanity.

Eight fucking pence.
(, Mon 13 Feb 2012, 10:18, 23 replies)
Hail Seizure!...

Many moons ago I was but a fleeting young Cheeky, and my only skill consisted of being a bit of a techno-geek (as in technology and suchlike, not the ‘boom-boom-bloody-boom’ music sort of thing)

In any case, one day, my parents had decided to buy a new telly, due to the unforeseen circumstances of their previous one bursting into flames. (This was the olden days, remember – that used to happen a lot)

Anyhoo, in their ultimate wisdom they took me along, for my ‘expert’ 14-year-old opinion on what would constitute fulfilling the bare requirement of a 'bargain-tastic new-fangled TV-a-tron'.

One megastore later, as I wandered around the electrical shop pretending to know what I was doing, we were distracted by a 'bit of a kerfuffle'…

A young girl, about 10 years old…started positively freaking out by the wall of televisions that tends to line such establishments. Screaming wildly with arms flailing, the poor kid was acting as if she was either being electrocuted, demoniacally possessed, or could just no longer contain her excitement at the sheer magnitude of shoddy blenders and wotnot on special offer.

Her poor flustered mum didn’t know what to do – so she opted to 'flap a bit'.

Displaying the very worst type of human nature, like when driving slowly past a car crash, the entire population of the store decided to stand perfectly still…and cowardly observe what was to transpire. For fuck's sake, I could’ve sold popcorn to the amount of lazy-arsed, agog faces, gawping away as they turned their heads away from their potential purchases so they could watch the events unfold.

My Dad, however, had other ideas. Like a crusty, slightly wiffy old superhero, he decided to pause on humouring my increasingly fumbling ‘expertise’, and he strolled straight up to the poor girl and his distraught mother.

As the little lass continued to gibber endlessly, everyone else just stood and stared. I did too. If this had happened nowadays there would probably be phonecam videos of it on youtube…but nonetheless, everybody stayed rooted to the spot as my Dad cheerily approached them, and gently placed his hand on her shoulder.

“Are you alright love?” He enquired, as the girl uncontrollably wibbled. The distraught mum seemed quite stunned as she watched this bumbling old fellla amble over in the middle of a crisis…but immediately, before anyone could comment, the girl started to calm somewhat in the presence of this total stranger.

“Would you like a sit down?” my Dad then enquired, before heaving some big object over (using the strength that only Dads have - it could have been a MASSIVE fridge, but might have been a chair), and reassuringly ushered the poor girl towards it.

She nodded her head tentatively, and started the slow journey towards being compos mentis.

The flummoxed young mum was obviously still startled, but she soon composed herself, stepped in and joined my Dad as everybody looked on, watching this blithering old fart involve himself…and completely take control of the situation. Thankfully, the girl continued to slowly calm down.

However, at this point, (if I remember correctly it was the store assistant manager…but either way he was some cunting lickspittle), decided to assume that my Dad must somehow be related to the poor girl, who must only be throwing a big girlie tantrum, and he promptly decided that he didn't want such an embarrassing display driving his precious customers away. He approached my Dad, straightened his corporate badge and barked: “Oi!, You!” before pointing his finger at the door and exclaiming: “Get her out of here!”

Now - I cannot state enough - my Dad is a kindly, wisend old bell-end who has lived a bit, and thusly it takes a lot to rile him. However, the actions of this insensitive management mongoloid seemed to be almost precisely the exact amount of wankerishness it takes to boil my old man's piss. He manoeuvred the girl's frantic mother closer towards her daughter and clasped their hands together, before briefly leaving his post to step away; just a couple of strides towards the utter fucking twat who was thinking of nothing but his sales figures.

To this day I can’t remember how something spoken so quietly by such an unassuming man could be so intimidating. But Lorks…I mean, I nearly shat a brick, and I was only ‘watching from the wings’ as it were. I’m afraid my typed words do not do justice to the next thing that happened…My Dad calmly stepped towards the ass manager, looked him straight into his beady eyes and said:

“She will leave when she’s ready……but as for you……..you will fuck off…...NOW!”

The jobsworth jobbie proceeded to take huge backward steps in the fashion of someone who had just found a freshly severed horse head in his underpants drawer. Visibly crumbling like a freshly attacked World Trade Centre, the shop assistant simply slithered away and melted into the background, as some onlookers dared to glare at him from afar.

My Dad then turned and went back to the girl and his mother, speaking gently, yet confidently, and over a few minutes, managed to calm everybody down and then accompany the girl and her mother to their car. Ensuring their safety, he then passed on his phone number to the mother so she could call him and let him know how the young girl was doing. With the panic now subdued, the mother burst into floods of appreciative tears – heartily thanking my Dad for his heroic assistance. He merely beamed at her and answered: “No problem love. now if you don’t mind, I have to get back inside before my lad makes me fork out for some bloody crap over-sized telly”

The mother duly called later. It turns out that the girl was diagnosed epileptic, but her previous seizures had only been very mild. However, the strobe-like flashing of a veritable wall of TV’s managed to set her off like a cheap Chinese firework. It was a very real, proper emergency, yet nobody thought to do anything…except my Dad.

I was already proud of him…that was just some more icing on the cake.

To round this off, I would dearly like to big my Dad up some more with something like: 'Of course, this behaviour was natural for him because he used to be a Colonel in the army’ or ‘He used to be a Doctor / Psychiatrist’, or even something like, ‘He’s built like a brick shithouse’, but I’m afraid I can’t. He’s just a normal sized guy who, before he retired, was a forklift truck driver in a shitty warehouse in Coventry. However, He just so happens to be quite staggeringly good with people – and I consider that a genuine gift - so I won't try to add any more facts, bullshit or credence to my tale. He is just a quite phenomenal human being.

…but I still call him a silly old bugger.
(, Mon 13 Feb 2012, 17:02, 10 replies)
Since I've now admitted in another post to being a crusty old tramp for while,
I'll tell of a charming old fellow who stopped to chat with me while I was cooking a scabby rat (something cheap, maybe spam on a stick) on my campfire.
At this time I was resident in a layby near Downham Market in Norfolk, enjoying the golden splendors of autumn in the fens. I'd been there for about a month, working occasionally with the veg pickers/packers and had all mod cons in my site, to wit, some public bogs and a nice riverside location under some trees with a daily chips and burger van.
Even the local village cop used to drop by and chat, no malice and no hint of getting moved on.

One afternoon an old boy stopped in his Allegro (or replace with alternative old codger-mobile of your choice here) to use the crappers and afterwards wandered over to tell me that he'd noticed me there before.
"Oh great" I thought, -here we fucking go again-, "I've called the council and they'll soon have you removed sonny Jim"-
But it was none of the usual, he sat on a picnic bench, pulled out his pipe and chatted with me for about an hour; asking a lot of questions and not really making much comment on my answers.
We talked of his life too and his time in a POW camp in the war and other adventures, perhaps he was lonely, he told me he was a widower.
Then as suddenly as he had arrived, he stood up, bid me a good day and buggered off, wishing me luck with the future.

The next day the guy who ran the burger van appeared with a bagged meal of healthy sandwiches and a some good old fashioned greasy burgers and chips.
Handing them over with a big grin, he gave me an envelope with 50 quid in it and explained that the old feller had left instructions to give this to me, feed me and offer his best wishes again.
"He paid for the food too, but that's on me mate, so here's another tenner".

No note, no name and I never saw him again. I'll never forget though.
(, Mon 13 Feb 2012, 19:24, 9 replies)
Swimming Instructor
As a young boy, I was absolutely terrified of learning to swim. I would sit at home cross-legged infront of the sofa and read books like the ’Ladybird book of swimming’ and think of it as a manual, like any budding geek. But, as soon as I got near a swimming pool, the smell of chlorine would have my heart hammering away. It was as scary as the smell of a dentist's surgery or the sight of wrapped needles in a Doctor's.

But, I was pretty determined to learn and my Mother submerged me (no pun intended) in twice weekly lessons. It seemed to me that I was always at the pool after school, walking nervously out of the changing rooms with my arm bands as fully inflated as I could get them and a huge ’float’ under my arm.

This story is about an instructor at the pool who patiently, every lesson, would hold the float infront of me and tell me sincerely that he would not let go of it while I splashed my feet and fearfully concentrated on keeping my head well above water. In retrospect, the man's patience was extradinary. Against the impatience of my bored Mother in the spectator’s gallery (who insisted like any Indian ’tiger’ mother that I ’should be doing better’) he never pushed me to do more, but waited until I volunteered to go to the next level. Because he never broke his promise and respected me that ’I’ knew when the time was right, I trusted him in return. Each step was a huge leap, like doing the breast stroke with arm bands, but with the float within reach, and slowly getting further away from it.
The penultimate step, was swimming without arm bands but with him holding both his hands under my chest as I paddled along. I can’t tell you how long it was between our first lesson until this point, but it must have been several months.

To this day, I remember the moment in the shallow end of the Borhamwood Swimming pool as I was swimming towards the side after countless repetitions. Paying patient attention like he had been for ages, he must have noticed that all fear had left me and without saying a word, he let his hands fall away from me and I was swimming for the first time in my life. I remember feeling esctatic, like I had just learned how to fly. From then on, you couldn’t keep me out of the pool and within a few years, I even joined the school swimming team

I said this story is about the instructor. I don’t know how old he was..to my young eyes he was an ’adult’, he could have been a teenager. Nor can I remember what he looks like. But I know to this day that his name is Ken. I know this because the next time I visited the pool, he presented me with a tiny ’winners cup’. It’s made of proper metal with a black base and although it has two handles (like any big trophy) it’s only about 4 inches high. On it, he had engraved My full name and his, and the date when I finally learned to swim.

It was the the kindest thing he could have done. As an instructor employed by the pool, he could have just gone on to the next kid.. But, he knew that learning to swim was the first ’big’ achievement of my life and he treated it as such

40+ years later, I still have that little cup. I wish could find him and thank him for what he did: his patience with a very scared boy, ignoring a stupidly impatient Mother, and most of all understanding and respectfully recognising how proud that little boy felt.

I might add, my Mother can’t swim to this day...
(, Mon 13 Feb 2012, 20:32, 8 replies)
Reaching out to the elderly
As a student, I used to stay with an aunt and uncle in Bury a lot, especially over weekends. Of a morning (well, whatever time I would surface) I'd head up to the shop at the top of their road to buy a paper. To approach the shop, you'd come up to a T-junction where directly opposite was an old folk's home.

One morning, as I approached the junction, I saw an elderly lady stood in the window. She was waving in a sad, almost mournful fashion - not even putting much effort into her wave. It was a saturday morning, grey and overcast. She was alone, in a home, probably not visited by friends or family in some time. She must have felt detached from the world around her, alone, desperate for someone to recognise her existence and bring the tiniest little bit of light into her life.

I did what we all would do - put on a big shit-eating grin and waved back. After a second or so, her eyes met mine. I saw confusion, then a little fear, then finally, comprehension. She put down the cloth with which she had been happily cleaning her window, and waved cheerfully back at the grinning retard stood in the street waving at her like a massive fucknugget.

Good of her, I say.
(, Thu 9 Feb 2012, 15:23, 2 replies)
A little old lady in Hammersmith
Late last year, I was supposed to see Seasick Steve at the Hammersmith Apollo...but then some fuckwit with a pneumatic drill punched his way right into a water main, causing the whole affair to be postponed literally half an hour before doors. Having spent a good £20 getting there, I was annoyed. Very annoyed.

In fact I was still in a bad mood a couple of weeks later for the rescheduled date, positively fuming at having to cough up another £20 to get there again. Living in Oxford, I used the Oxford Tube bus service (which is really quite brilliant) to get to Victoria, and from thereon the plan was to get the proper tube to Hammersmith.

It was on the platform that I saw a little old lady (I never did find out her name) struggling with a bag that was clearly too big for her to manage. She had cataracts too, and it was obvious that she could hardly see where she was going. Now, my general impression of London, and especially the tube, is that people tend to exist in their own bubbles, not really communicating with any one outside them; headphones in, kindles out, newspapers up. But the most heartwarming thing happened, and every single individual on that platform bent over backwards to help this little old lady on her way - one spotty ginger metalhead carried her bag onto the train, an Indian man gave up his seat, everybody gave her some extra space and patience to sort herself out. People asked where she was getting out (which also happened to be Hammersmith) and helped her to the door in plenty of time so she wouldn't miss her stop.

And then she started crying. Not great wailing floods, of course, but just quiet drops of gratitude, dabbed at with a tissue, and almost hidden from the helpful passengers. I don't think I've every seen anyone be so thankful for such tiny gestures.

Just before we arrived, she confessed that a week or so ago she had been mugged by some youths, and this was the first time she'd left her house since. She must have been half expecting the same again - instead she got the exact opposite.

Myself and a fellow passenger (who I didn't know until then) decided we'd surreptitiously follow her home to check that she made it to her door safely. She did, but had been so moved by everyone's kindness that she was shaking with tears and could barely get her key in the lock.

People of Hammersmith, I salute you.
(, Sun 12 Feb 2012, 14:57, 8 replies)
Because I'm not a paedo...
Picture the scene, there I am in Sainsbury's merrily trying to remember what the fuck it was I went there for when I spot a small Asian girl, aged about 3-4 stood in the middle of one of the aisles on her own. Initially I thought nothing of it, assuming her mum had left her there and nipped off to another part of the shop quickly, then I noticed she was damn near in tears and everyone else was pointedly ignoring her. So, realising that the shop assistants were too engrossed in stacking packets of Quavers and the general public was too scared to talk to a strange child lest they be branded a sex offender by the Paedo finder General I decided to see what was up.
"Hello there" said I "Have you lost your mum?"
She looked up at me, and with relief in her eyes, which were now full of tears, nodded silently to me.
"Okay then, shall I help you find her?"
Another nod, this time with a small smile, then the offer of a small hand.
"I'm Keios, what's your name?" I asked
"Kasumi" came the quiet response
"Oh, that's a Japanese name isn't it? I have a cousin called Kasumi!"
Suddenly she became animated "Are you Japanese?"
"Only half, my mum was Japanese"
"So am I! My mummy's Japanese as well! Hajimemashite! Sorry. I don't speak a lot of Japanese."
"Don't worry" I confessed "Neither do I"
So, I took my newfound friend to the customer service desk where her frantic-looking mother was waiting. On seeing her A cry of "Hello mummy! This is my new friend Kei! He's half Japanese as well! He helped me find you!" was let out and much aw-shucksing slightly self concious "It was nothing really"ing was done on my part and many thanks were heaped on me on her part. So, for fucks sake, if you see an obviously distressed child, don't just walk past them for fear that you'll be making yourself a pariah, remember how fucking terrifying the world was when you were that little and see what's wrong! Unless you're the cause of their distress, in which case move along sharpish.
(, Sat 11 Feb 2012, 14:25, 5 replies)
the karma hat
this is a fairly shit non-story, but meh.

A few years ago i was a wet-behind the ears apprentice-type dickhead, doing a job that involved being out and about all over the place at various times of day. One autumn i was working a split-day (12pm - 12am) and as it had been a sunny afternoon i'd neglected to bring any warm gear. That night winter fell with a bump and I was working outside in the very cold darkness in only a thin fleece. One of the more experienced lads lent me a spare jacket and woolly hat, so life became slightly more bearable.

at the end of the night, i gave him back his jacket and made some admiring comment about the hat, and being the lovely bloke he was he let me keep it. I'd learned my lesson, so as soon as i could, i put together a bag of spare clothes, coat, gloves and hats to take with me on jobs - just in case of inclement weather.

a few months later, i was out working and one of the guys i was with had come out without a hat, and was rather chilly. So i gave him the hat, and explained how i'd come about it. I also let him keep the hat at the end of the night.

a couple of years later I met that bloke again, and he remembered me, and told me how he had passed the hat on himself in similar circumstances, to a bloke who he'd later discovered had done the same too.

I like the idea of a karma hat.
(, Thu 9 Feb 2012, 20:42, 7 replies)
A father's lesson
Whilst on a family holiday in Cyprus, at the tender age of 8, I decided I'd test out my new snorkelling gear at the hotel pool. It was quite a large pool, though fairly empty at the time, with maybe a few other kids playing in the shallow end.

Now I was a decent swimmer so straight to the deep end for me! I had a bit of a paddle with my head just beneath the surface, looking around the bottom of the pool and finding nothing particularly interesting, as it's just a white tiled floor, but then I noticed it!

Catching my eye was a shiny gold ring in the corner of the pool, and I immediately dived down to retrieve my prize! It was quite heavy for it's size, and had something engraved on the inside, which I couldn't understand.

I raced out of the pool to show my family my treasure and thought about what sort of things I could buy when I sold it.

My father took a look at it and commented that it looked expensive and he also struggled to read the foreign tongue imprinted on the inside.

'We'll have to hand this in' he said.

'But why!?' I yelled, 'It's mine, I found it!'

'It belongs to someone else and they've lost it, so we should hand it in' he replied.

'But I want to keep it, I'm the one that found it!' I whined.

He left a note at the hotel reception with our room number, saying that his son had found a ring in the hotel swimming pool. I remained in a foul mood for the rest of the day.

In the evening we received a phone call saying that there was a man downstairs at reception that they think the ring may belong to. They repeated the engraved words so we knew this was the right person.

I didn't want to go but my father said as the one that found it I should come along too.

Waiting for us there was a young German man holding a bottle of champagne, probably around late 20's. He'd been married for 2 weeks and was on his honeymoon, the ring was his deceased father's that he'd been given for his wedding, and the engraving was the words chosen by his mother 40 years ago.

I've never seen anyone so grateful as that stranger that day, and no rubbish I would have bought from the profit of that 'treasure' would ever top the memory of seeing the relief on his face when it was back in his hands.

Ever since that day, if I ever find anything I'll go out of my way to try and return it to its rightful owner, and thank my father for teaching me to look beyond greed and do the right thing.
(, Fri 10 Feb 2012, 14:53, 5 replies)
Some sort of inter-school talent competition
My oldest (9) and his friend had practised their song and were word (if not quite pitch) perfect. They even had some 'Funky dance moves' and were quietly confident.

The school my kids go to is great; they have a specialist teaching unit but try to integrate the special kids into normal class, this means that most classes have 3 adults at all times, which is fantastic.

Anyway, one of the kids from the unit had been taken under the wing of my son and they got on really well. In fact my son is one of only a few people who can communicate with him and understands everything he says (I can't make out a word of it).

So, to the day of the competition and the school turns out to support the kids performing. The competition is good but we are better! It is time for #1 son to go on and while he is nervous, he knows what to do and has practised (of his own volition) for weeks. Suddenly special friend starts making a scene and while no one knows what the matter is, #1 calls him over. Apparently he REALLY wants to join in and can not understand why he is not allowed to.

#1 and co-star decide that he should join them on stage and as the lights go up and the first notes drift out they start, now as a threesome, to perform...

They came 2nd from last, the performance was totally ruined. It would almost have been funny if we did not know how much effort had gone into it.

Afterwards, expecting some sort of fall out #1 son announced that it did not matter and that it was better for special friend to get a go than to worry about winning.

Kids today eh? All asbos and nintendos according to the Daily Mail.

I is very proud.
(, Thu 9 Feb 2012, 14:23, 3 replies)
out and about, nursed an injured butterfly back to health
got back home, my house has been destroyed in unseasonably high winds
(, Thu 9 Feb 2012, 23:33, 5 replies)
Rain...

me and the missus had just moved into our new place. Lots and lots of shifting stuff, unpacking and generally getting the place liveable. Midnight comes, as does a storm, and we're just about to go to bed then

DING-DONG!

Someone at the door. So I answer it and this amiable idiot is standing there, rain sleeting down his cheeks

"I'm sorry to bother you mate but - any chance of a push?"

"What? Eh? - It's midnight, pissing down, and you want me to give you a push? - Call the AA mate." And I shut the door.

Missus looks at me reproachfully.

"Remember the first time you took me camping? Remember getting the car stuck in the mud? Remember how that farmer dragged us out of the mud at 3 in the morning? And wouldn't accept any thanks?"

I knew when I was beaten. So I pulled on a coat and walked outside.

"Oy - mate!' I yelled "Where are you? - I'll give you a push"

"I'm over here! - On the swings...."
(, Thu 16 Feb 2012, 12:38, 9 replies)
Chased around Piccadilly Circus
At the top end of Piccadilly near Piccadilly Circus, there is a moneychanger's shop which used to have a 24-hour Western Union terminal. My girlfriend was in Australia at the time of this story, and I'd finished work around 2am and wanted to send her some money urgently to keep her unwholesome landlord away from her door.

Sitting on my bottom for years to work in the picture business had made me fat and lazy. So I withdrew my whole day's allowance from the bank opposite, and waddled over the road, almost breathless having walked from Greek Street, to fill out the forms on the public side of the thick glass window in the moneychanger's shop. At that moment, out of the darkness appeared a skinny little man who looked like he'd not eaten, but he probably owed someone a lot of money for whatever made his skin look like the Moon's crust. My hands being occupied with pen and paper, he saw his moment and, before I could register his nearness, he whipped away my wallet with my girl's safety-money inside. And then he ran. Oh crikey, did he run!

It was like a flipping Keystone Cops film. The scrawny guy sprinted up toward Piccadilly Circus with me following him shouting, "Stop! Thief! That man has stolen my wallet!" It was worse than The Goodies. None of the road maintenance folk around the statue of Eros seemed to care; and I was too slow for the thieving little gazelle.

But a huge, dark figure overtook me: the guy who was behind me in the queue for Western Union. He was tall, wide, and very VERY quick. As the thief approached a bus stop in Regent Street, the gravitational field of the big fellow appeared to suck the crim into his iron grip as the brave stranger fought the little man for my money. Never have I seen a face so frightened as the skinny fellow's mug. He released my wallet exactly as the tall guy, in deep West African tones, instructed him; and I remember telling the snatcher never to come back, because his face was on every CCTV camera around. I may even have said to the criminal, "You've been let go tonight, you thieving bastard; now, fuck off."

The fellow who caught the thief talked to me on the way back to Piccadilly. He wouldn't accept a penny of reward. He told me he was a professional footballer who played "for a team around here", and he was sending some money to Ghana, last-minute, for a family wedding. But in the early hours of that morning, with his exceptional speed, strength and bravery at the service of a stranger, without even being asked, he saved my girlfriend's house and her dignity; and prompted me to stop getting so fat, and start running four miles a day. Brilliant man. I've no idea who he was.
(, Fri 10 Feb 2012, 15:52, 7 replies)
Me, the girl, the nutter and the bus....
I used to work for a well known insurance 'institution'. From that I'm sure you can guess which. The old "It's always been done this way" stands true there more so than anywhere I have ever worked....and this includes the 'meeting clients' down the pub.

After one such 'meeting' I decided to leave my car in the work carpark and bus it home. I got on the bus and sitting in front of me was a petite young girl, maybe 16/17 and very innocent looking. As she was the only other person on the bus, I decided to sit as far away from her as possible and walked to the back of the bus so she didn't feel intimidated.
A couple more stops along and Eddie the fucking Eagle gets on the bus - well, Ok, probably not the *real* Eagle, but by Christ this bloke looked like his evil twin. He makes a bee-line for the girl and sits right next to her...nay, almost on top of her. She looks visibly distressed, confirmed by the pleading 'please help me' look in her eyes.
He starts asking her where she's been, what's her name, where does she live, what drugs she's taken, to which she replies that she's taken none - the reply of "what do you want? I've got it all" did nothing to allay her fears.
Sighing, I moved forward a couple of seats and tried to engage the bloke in conversation.
He, expectedly, gets defensive, then offensive, then downright nasty towards me AND the girl.
I continued to remain calm and continued to draw his attention away from the now terrified teenager...with some success.
About 40 minutes later, we've arrived at my stop, and I go to stand up and press the button...but...the girl looks me in the eye, and mouths "Please don't leave. Help me".

Oh dear God.

It's simply not possible for a grown man to resist this plea. It's just not.
Ok...this is the last bus...there will be no more coming back the other way. How much further am I going to have to stay on this bus and how much further am I going to have to walk back...and how much more abuse am I going to have to take?
As it happens...not too much of any of it thankfully. She got off at the next but one stop, meaning about a mile, mile and half, walk back for me. I get off at the same stop with her...where her father is waiting.
He then starts shouting at me and hurling abuse my way; I'm thinking "What the flying frig is this about?".
Of course, discretely, whilst on the bus, she's sent a text to her dad telling him of this pissed, drugged up, Eddie the Eagle lookalike giving her abuse and he goes to meet her at her stop. He naturally assumes that it is me (for I too must look like the famously bad skiier, although I have yet to see the similarity), and that not only am I giving her abuse, but following her home off the bus as well.
Thankfully, she puts him straight and he lays off a bit - still unconvinced. After thanking me, begrudginly mind, I start to walk the mile or so in the direction of home and the bloody heavens open up and soak me to the bone.
So, yeah. Karma is bullshit.
(, Thu 9 Feb 2012, 13:56, 2 replies)
The gift is in the giving
Years ago, in a cookery lesson in school, I made an apple pie. In a fit of righteous philanthropy I decided I was going to give the pie to my elderly neighbour (she was frail, half blind and had Parkinson's disease and lived alone - she was obviously in need of an entire apple pie).

She was delighted, or at least she pretended she was, but the next day she presented me with a box of chocolates to thank me. I was incredibly annoyed by this as my selfless gesture wasn't supposed to be rewarded and she was totally destroying my chance to bask in unadulterated altruism. I decided the only way to improve the situation was to bake another pie, and then when she'd paid me back for that I'd bake another, and another, and another, in some kind of fucked up cake arms race.

Fortunately she died a short time later. I don't think it was pie related.
(, Thu 9 Feb 2012, 14:50, 13 replies)
Crime School
My friend's Dad worked at the local Young Offenders' Institution teaching woodwork to the scrotes, and one evening he was asked if he could help the visiting Barber get into his car, as he had accidentally locked his keys in the boot. Now my friend's Dad is no expert on car security, but he's got a room full of them right there.
So he asks his class if there's anyone who can possibly help them get into the car. It's not like it's a Screw's car, surely someone will do the right thing and use their nefarious knowledge to help out an ordinary bloke who's having a bad day?

No problem, the current Prince of TWOC is in residence and he steps up to the plate. Rules are bent and a party of Prison Officers, auxilliary staff and tutors accompany the scrote volunteer to the car park. He's in his element, centre of attention.

"Hmmm, brand new Audi, nice. Oh sweet,it's got all the toys on it too, top motor you got there Boss, very stealable, you wanna look after it. You've really dropped a bollock, shutting your key inside haven't you?"

The owner of the car shuffles uncomfortably and looks sheepish, "I've only had it a day, I didn't realise it would self-lock..."

With bated breath, they watch the youth stalk round the car, rubbing his chin as he pondered the security features.
"Well?" someone ventured "Can you get in to it?"
The Prince of TWOC turns to them, grins and says "Of course I fucking can!", before quick as lightning grabbing a loose coping stone from the kerb and heaving it through the driver's window.

As he was frogmarched off, he was heard to squeal "What's the problem? That's always how I get into them."
(, Thu 9 Feb 2012, 17:43, 4 replies)
The wonderful Mr Oliver
I may have mentioned this fellow before, but I think he deserves another outing.

Mr Oliver is a lovely, polite man. In his late 80's/early 90's, he still walks around town and once a fortnight comes into my pub for lunch.

Every time he is politeness personified. Amazed by my ability to remember what he drinks (pineapple juice with no ice) and always with a kind word. He leaves his 50p tip carefully under his plate and without fail compliments the cook.

One day a few years back I got into a bout of fisticuffs (basically asking a 6'6'' bloke to leave after he had been caught taking drugs) It was all a bit one sided and I ended up looking like this with a shattered wrist)



A few days later a hand delivered card arrived through the door from Oliver. In shaky but clearly carefully composed script was a little card stating how sorry Oliver was that such a horrible thing had happened. Also inside was a £10 note with instructions to spend it to cheer myself up.

This little act of kindness brought a tear to my eye and went some way to restore faith in the human race.
(, Tue 14 Feb 2012, 15:10, 12 replies)
A dark winter evening
and I'm driving home from work. At one junction, there's an old fella, dithering and faltering at the side of the road, obviously trying to cross but having trouble judging a safe interval between cars. "Poor old fool" I thought, then in a pang of guilt, I pulled over, got out of the car and went over to him.

He was an elderly West Indian gent - pork-pie hat, grey overcoat, short silvery beard. As I came up to him, he was muttering "Oh god... oh me god... damn ting, damn ting..." And as he turned to me, I saw he was very, very drunk.

"Come on mate, let's get you across here" I said, stepping out with one hand raised. The cars stopped, and I led him over. "Oh god..." he muttered "Where am I?"
I smothered a laugh. He hadn't wanted to cross the road. In fact he didn't know what he wanted. With a sigh, I led him back across, and over to my car. He got into the passenger seat well enough, and I asked him where he lived. "Oh god..." he muttered, "I never drink again... never again".

I couldn't get an address from him, only that it "wasn't far." So we ended up driving around the streets nearby, him saying "No, not dis one... there, over there.... oh god, no, not that... oh god I never drink again..." - and me giggling as quietly as I could.

Eventually we rocked up at a house he recognised. I helped him out, and to the the front door. He rang the bell, and a short, stout, very fierce-looking old lady opened up. I started to explain "Is this his house? He's got a bit lost..."
"GET IN HERE YOU BAD MAN!!" she screeched at him; and he sheepishly entered. She glared at me, gave a curt nod, and shut the door. I walked back to the car in fits of laughter, imagining the bollocking that was now in progress. A dreary winter night considerably enlivened.
(, Fri 10 Feb 2012, 23:26, 1 reply)
Honeymoon train disaster turned good
My newly wed wife and I were booked first class to Inverness to go stay in a cottage in the Highlands for a week of malts and nookie - but Network Rail had other ideas. Our train was cancelled, and the booked seats and meals along with it, because the line to London was borked (some power failure - maybe stolen cables, who knows) around Stevenage. The advice we got was to go north as far as we could and see what we could do when we got there.
Fair enough, thinks I, power failures happen. Worst case, I can get us a hotel wherever we end up, and then haggle with the train company to cover our expenses further. Mrs LittleFaith was not taking the set back so well, but we had to make do. Off we went.

On the train, belligerently sat in our (no longer) reserved seats, all the chat was about how awful it was to be buggered about in this manner. We chatted a little with an elderly lady from the Highlands about her frequent journeys to and from London on the route. The single member of train staff on the journey was helpful and informative - but there wasn't much she could do.

As we went north, the messed up schedule caused more and more problems - the carriages got crowded more than usual, because everyone wanted to get aboard this sole train. Some people got on and demanded to sit in their reserved seats - which were also our reserved seats. Tears and upset ensued. Our helpful train staffer was helpful, but new wife and I were having a hard time staying full of the joys of wedlock.

We finally made it to Edinburgh, where the train we were on stopped (unlike the direct journey we'd booked on). Hundred of us piled off and looked for news of another train to get us to where we were meant to be going. Mrs LittleFaith was intermittently quietly crying on the luggage among our fellows, including the nice elderly lady who made the trip so very often.
My phone rang - the car hire company who we were due to pick up our rental from when we arrived. "We have you down to collect today, sir - are you on your way?"
Me - "No, I'm in Edinburgh station, the next train will get me to Inverness by about 2200. Why?"
Rental - "We close in ten minutes, sir."
Me - "But I booked the car for 2100 at Inverness station. It's only ten to six now."
Rental - "Sorry, but we're going to close. Can you collect the car tomorrow?"
Me - "I'm going to need the car to get to my cottage where we're staying. Is there no pick up from [name of hotel where Rental Co booked the original pick up]? Can the keys be left with reception of the hotel?"
Rental - "We don't do rental from that hotel sir."
Naturally, I was upset by this announcement. Their head office had booked me a car pick up from a place that didn't do pick ups, at a time that was after their closing.
Me - [calming down] "Can you deliver the car tomorrow to the cottage? We'll get a taxi there."
Rental - "Let me check..." [takes address] "I'm not sure sir. I'll have to call you back tomorrow, sir."

So I have this new piece of good new to break to the new wife. "We can get the bus or something into Inverness, at worst case - it'll give us a chance to look around."
Nice lady from the train pipes up: "Oh dear, you're not having a good start to married life, are you?"
Not really, no. Thinking she'll have better local knowledge, I ask: "Which station would be best to get to [the hamlet where our cottage is]? We've rented a cottage there. I'd hate to get all the way into Inverness just to go back to one of the stations we pass on the way - I only booked the train there to get the hire car."
Lady - "Let me ask my husband..." - and she gets on her phone.

While this nice elderly lady is on the phone, chatting away, it becomes apparent that she's not just asking her hubby which station is best, but how far our cottage is going to be out of their way. More tears - of relief - from Mrs LittleFaith, as we're offered a lift the sixty miles between Aviemore and our cottage.

So we arrive at a little past midnight, in a retired couple's car, at our honeymoon cottage in the Highlands - and they drive off into the night, never to be seen again, with only our thanks.
It doesn't stop there, though.

The cottage walls and the remote location mean that the hire car company can't call in the morning. I try phoning, but get nowhere. After a while, realising we need to get to a supermarket to get some food, or we'll be trying live on the few choccies and wine we've brought with us for the whole week - I suggest we go ask the neighbours (a little house we can see down the road about half a mile) if we can figure out how to get to Inverness and get our car.

Well, the neighbours called the car hire place for us, and - just because they couldn't get through - gave us both a lift to Inverness, about 40 miles, pointing out the good supermarkets and distilleries along the way, and wouldn't leave us alone till we'd been given our car as booked.

Even as I write this out I'm a little choked by how much it meant to us to be helped like that. I've never been able to thank the lady and her husband, and our neighbours, as much as I think they deserve. It's as if there's an inherent kindness that seems to disappear from the population as you travel back south.

TL:DR - You southerners are all mean cunts compared to the Highlanders.
(, Thu 9 Feb 2012, 20:17, 7 replies)
The axeman cometh.
Sorry it's a RP but it fits this question better than it did the original...

Just some quick background...

I've been having a really bad week. Broke up with my fiancee and later discovered she'd cheated on me. I tell you this only so you can imagine my current mindset. For those who can't; I'm so down I'm positively subterranean. It feels like someone's died.

With that in mind, some further background...

I live in a big old house that's been converted to 3 flats. I'm on the ground floor, the top two flats are currently empty. The landlord of the flat above mine had his previous tenant disappear owing him rent so is in the process of changing the locks. This includes the lock on the main, communal front door. He changed the lock on Monday and promised to get me a key cut. Since then I've had to leave the front door on the latch everytime I go out.

Yesterday, my phone died while I was in work. It's a messy business breaking up with someone, there's a lot of texting and terse phonecalls involved. So I'm essentially phoneless. I arrive home with some bags of shopping to find that the door is no longer on the latch. It is locked. I have no key. And no phone.

After standing there aghast for a minute I think "Fuck it. It's that pillock of a landlord's fault I'm locked out, he'll just have to replace the lock again" and start kicking the shit out of the door.

After about 5 minutes of this, Paul arrives. I don't know Paul, he lives across the road from me. He looks a bit 'special'. And is carrying an axe.

"Alright mate?", asks Paul, "need a hand with that?".

I'm so grateful he hasn't come to behead me I say yes. I'm further grateful that he decides not to go all "Heeeere's Johnny!" on my front door but instead wedges the axe blade between the door and the frame and starts twisting it. "While I twist, you push the door, hard", he says. So I do.

After about 5 minutes of this Martin pulls up in his van. I don't know Martin either. But he looks like a builder.

"Oi mate!", shouts Paul. Who also doesn't know Martin. "You haven't got a crowbar in the back of that thing have you?"

"Yeah.", answers Martin, looking slightly wary. "Why?"

"Bring it over here!"

So that is the story of how me and two complete randoms ended up in a heap on my hallway floor having crashed through my front door and broken into my own home.

I'm inside my flat after thanking the guys. I put the shopping down and I know I'm about to cry. I'm sweating, worn out physically and emotionally and I can just feel it coming.

Then there's a tap at the window.

I pull myself together, pull back the curtain and see Paul stood outside. I go out to meet him.

"Hiya fella. I just been and told the wife what happened and she had a right good giggle about it. Wants to know if you'd like to come over for dinner?"

I could barely talk I was welling up so much. How lovely is that?

Never underestimate the kindness of strangers.
(, Thu 9 Feb 2012, 18:06, 10 replies)
Aaaaahh, Vienna!
Some years ago I had a girlfriend in Vienna. She came over her to the UK quite often, and I would go and stay with her at other times. Christmas was coming, and I was going to spend it with her.

Due to work, I could only fly on December 23rd, so I knew it was going to be busy. I'd allowed a couple of hours extra time to cope with the delays that are all part of the "fun" of travelling at peak times. But, it turned out that my usual paranoia about lateness was for once insufficient, as the roads approaching London were fuller than a tramp's pockets at a free buffet.

Still some miles from the airport, and we're crawling at less than walking speed. I've got time between each 1/4 mile post to calculate our exact average speed and estimated time of arrival, which was always worrying. To the coach-driver's credit, he really pulled out the stops to make progress, but there's only so much you can do when the entire population of Britain seems to want to occupy the same patch of tarmac.

Eventually we arrived, still in time for the flight, though only at a dead run. Luckily I was travelling light - I was planning to spend most of the time naked, after all - and I tore into the departures hall.

...to be met by a scene of utter chaos. The hall was rammed, presumably in sympathy with the roads outside. Clearly it hadn't occurred to the airlines that if they sell N tickets, they need to be able to process N people in a given time. Such advanced mathematics was obviously way beyond them.

Desultorily, I joined the very back of the enormous, snaking queue to my check-in desk, which appeared to be in a different time-zone somewhere on the horizon. I was just behind a very smart and up-market family; a tall, suited man, his elegant wife and two perfect children. Their expensive, stylish clothes and polite, if slightly superior mannerisms clearly marked them out as native Austrians returning home. I slouched into place behind them, looking like a shelf-collapse in a clothes recycling centre, resigned to be missing my flight and possibly two weeks of booze and shagging.

The departure time for the flight was approaching, and the queue had hardly moved. The father barked at a passing flunky, and demanded that he do something about it. German is a great language for being angry in. He said it was vital that they make that plane, though my German isn't good enough to catch why. Whatever, it seemed to work, as the airline person said he'd see if he could get them on.

"How many are in your party, Herr RichUntPowerfulPerson"?

"We are five." he replied, brusquely. With shock I realised that there were only four in his family, and he'd included me.

I had not spoken to them, or in any other way made contact. He'd simply seen an opportunity to help a stranger, and taken it. We made it onto the plane by running across the tarmac, and it was pushing back from the gate before we had even reached our seats.
(, Fri 10 Feb 2012, 16:03, Reply)
GRATIS SURPRISE INCORPORATED
Long. I apologise. But, I hope, a worthwhile read.

It would be a tough ask to have created the underlying attitude of the infamously dormant pop/goth/fairground outfit Pwürg from music alone. The influence of other aspects of our way of life all came together to inspire the band to reach a deeper esoteric sense of obscurity. Therefore, simultaneously with the formation of the band, in 1993, we founded a "company" based on the age old philosophies of Robin Hood. The only difference was that we didn't steal from anybody, and we also didn't discriminate in who we chose to reward. As I believe Roger Waters once said, "We were all equal in the end." Our mission became Gratis Surprise Incorporated (or GSI for short).

Confused? Probably. So, let's cut to the chase - and begin with a newspaper article - published by the Maidenhead Advertiser in late 1993. And I quote verbatim:


----------------

P-C BOB HAS RIGHT IDEA FOR OUR 'HAMPER OF JOY'

THE Advertiser has always had an interesting and varied postbag, but we never expected to receive anything from outer space. On Friday, staff received a "hamper of joy" from Gratis Surprise Incorporated. Included in the contents were a selection of Kylie Minogue records, a shirt, a fencing mask, an apple, a waistcoat and a broken joystick. The parcel was delivered by a strange-looking man with a foreign accent. He screeched a greeting at our receptionist before dumping the box and leaving.

An accompanying letter claimed the senders were not of this earth (the Advertiser's circulation has obviously rocketed). It said: "Gratis Surprise Inc. is an organisation that rewards dedicated individuals in the community for their outstanding service and bravery. "At present, we have a campaign targeting the Maidenhead area. Many parcels have been distributed to the worthy citizens of your burgage borough."

The inter-galactic travellers, signed themselves - Gladys Surprise, Jacob Branthington, Harold, Egon Pilchard-Brethh, Genitt Rentson, Ingo Von Huehnerbein, Sarah Fftaang!, Lucas Manghope (son of) and B.B. Ghali, then wished us love and doses of a rather nasty disease. The Advertiser also received two bizarre telephone calls. But as the callers, after asking if we liked our gift, could only manage a screech, we can only assume that our alien admirers were too shy to talk to any of those "dedicated individuals."

Not wanting to look a gift horse in the mouth, we asked P-c. Bob Walker at Maidenhead police station if he knew of anyone else lucky enough to have received such a splendid present. And we were amazed to discover that, to his knowledge, we were the only people bestowed with the honour. Our next dilemma was what to do with this wondrous gift. Strangely enough, P-c Walker's suggestion was "bin it." Wonder why…?

----------------

(old mini scan here: www.crcmh.com/pcbob.jpg)

Intrigued yet? Well, this tale begins one night outside the derelict Canadian Red Cross Memorial Hospital in Cliveden (see www.crcmh.com) where we used to hang out. One night on a typical visit, we noticed a tatty bit of wood about one metre square at the end of someone's drive opposite the hospital. Scrawled upon it in felt-tip pen were the words "A + E Hyde. 2 Winkipop Cottages, Cliveden." I thought it was a bit sad that people had to resort to such a miserable introduction to their house, so with nothing but generosity in mind, I took the sign home with me, staying up all night in order to transform it into a psychedelic masterpiece using bright acrylic paints. When I'd finished, it looked like the kind of thing you might hang outside a Carnaby Street kaftan shop in the late sixties. It had little green bubbles all over it, which - obviously - were winkipops.

(Ladies & gentlemen, I give you ... The Sign: www.crcmh.com/winkipop.jpg)

At the very bottom of the sign, in small lettering, I wrote "Gratis Surprise Sign Redevelopments Inc." which was a meaningless afterthought - and where the company name would come from. If only all things were that easy.

Just as dawn hit (and having photographed the finished article), we drove back and placed the sign lovingly where it was originally found. This event immediately led to the recording of a song called "Winkipop Surprise" which was pretty much based around the tune from "Blankety-Blank" with chipmunk vocals about what a wonderful surprise it was and how grateful they should be to receive it. And with this song - Pwürg was born - with a mission to create further madcap music.

We noticed that the sign had been (presumably) taken inside the house almost instantly, and felt that perhaps the Hydes (if that's who they were) might like to hear the song written especially for them. We could have just mailed a tape to them, or put it through their letterbox. But that wouldn't be in the spirit of the whole thing. So we came up with a company letterhead in the name of Gratis Surprise Incorporated. The accompanying standard letter went like this:


----------------

Stardate:TIME2
42/176/658…txn

Gleetings Earthlings,

Congratulations, You have been carefully selected by us here at Gratis Surprise Incorporated to receive this splendid gift from us to you. We forage around the galaxies looking for kind and deserving persons such as yourselves so we can leave wonderful surprises to brighten up lives. GSI was founded in 1979 by German entrepreneur Mrs Gladys Surprise. Since, the corporation's act of kindness and love has been repeated throughout this and other universes now known or yet to be discovered by man. GSI is not a charity, we go far beyond the realms of human gratitude and offer caring gifts as a token of respect to mankind. GSI has found YOU and you will be highly rewarded. Please accept on behalf of GSI, the following smashing gifts:

(Here, a list of wonderful presents would be handwritten - in this case: A bag of delightfully scrummy banana flavoured fruity bon-bons and a copy of the song "Winkipop Surprise" as performed by a famous pop group.)

We hope that you take great pleasure in receiving these wonderful prizes and that you will spread the word of our good deeds across a vast amount of avid listeners. Be nice to everyone. PRAY FOR INTERGALACTIC PEACE.

With Love and Herpes,

(signed)
Gladys Surprise (chairwoman/founder)
Genitt Rentson (receptionist)
Harold (?)
Sarah Fftaang! (fashion designer)
Jacob Branthington (creative director)
Isaac Manghope Jr (son of I Manghope)
Cedric Moldavia (fitness instructor)
B.B. Ghali (activist)
Stumper O'Mulligan (check-out assistant)
Bob Mouldie (geriatric)
Dr Structure (dustman)

REF: GS94ms03-WKPj1-


----------------

This letter, along with a copy of the tape was packaged in a huge box, which was painted white. It had stars and glitter added along with white tassels along the edges and a roof was added. For a grander effect it was mounted on stilts, so that the finished gift looked like a little white house on four legs, about head height. It was finished off by inserting a flashing roadwork light so the whole thing pulsated in the dark.

So, off we went, creeping up the gravel drive of 2 Winkipop Cottages in the snow. It looked magic, this otherworldly inanimate object beaming an eerie orange light over the crisp white surrounds (it was mid-winter at the time). Without ringing the bell (because it was half-past dark by this point), we disappeared off into the shadows... and never heard anything more about it.

Nobody knows if they listened to the tape because to this day, they have never come forward. Perhaps it's still there in the drive and they're too scared to go outside and retrieve it. Maybe the sign is hanging over their mantelpiece. Who knows?

Nevertheless, by this stage, word spread and all sorts of people became interested in what Pwürg were doing in the twilight hours. We decided to "Gratis" (as it is became known) on a mass scale. The band and our helpers spent ages constructing huge cone shaped packages with glitter & pink stars and tassels all over them. In the name of publicity, the Maidenhead Advertiser's phone number was discreetly written inside the package. We made about thirty cones in all, then set about finding goodies to fill them with. People helped out with all sorts of crap - clothes they didn't want, broken appliances, records, tinned food, ANYTHING - as long as it wasn't dangerous, cruel or unhygenic. Every recipient also got the standard letter, informing them why they're being "Gratissed". When all was ready, we loaded up the van and headed off into the dead of night.

All over Maidenhead we roamed - Holyport, Bray, and as far as Twyford. We even did a few teachers' houses (those who nobody liked at school) - this time ensuring to ring the doorbells before we sped off. We were particularly pleased to have targeted Mr "Dick" Whiffen, a Desborough maths teacher who truly deserved it. We also made sure that Rolf Harris was a recipient too - heading down his very swank road on the Bray fisheries estate. We couldn't get to his front door, but somewhere on his security camera footage, you would've seen a giant gleaming white cone being lobbed onto his doorstep (Nobody recalls if we shouted out "Can you guess what it is yet, Rolf?" or not). The whole night was absolutely pointless, but good fun - especially when a much hated PE teacher was legging it down the road after us. Anyway, that taken care of, there was one last GSI mission left … the Maidenhead Advertiser.

It must be said here that this incident has probably remained a complete mystery to Advertiser staffers of the early '90s. But here is the truth about that infamous 'Hamper of Joy'.

We recruited a funny looking lanky German exchange student (and I mean seriously lanky and very tall) and got him to wear full national dress (using lederhosen lying around from my uncle's time in the Royal Artillery band based in Dortmund). We constructed an extra special big present with extra tassels hanging off it and a big bow on top. In addition to the objects mentioned in the article (we can but assume that the Advertiser was too embarrassed about this one), they received a King Kong Bundy wrestling figure (i.e. big bald guy in a leotard) with "Maidenhead Advertiser editor" scrawled across its chest.

We pulled up outside their offices in Bell Street and the German (nobody can recall his name but he was a friend of Matt's) hopped out carrying the parcel and he did a John Cleese silly walk into the foyer. After letting them know the joys of rhinoceros flavour strudel or whatever he was crapping on about in his native tongue, he screeched "Gratis Surprise" at them (a feat he'd later reproduce on the phone) then did a knee-slapping Bavarian dance for the reception staff, before bolting out the door and into our waiting getaway car.

Those involved do not know exactly what happened next, but if the article is anything to go by, it wouldn't have been surprising if they had evacuated the entire building - something I don't think they'd have given us the gratification of printing - and certainly something that would have been taken a lot more seriously these days. I think that Gratissing the media would be viewed as terrorism today. You can't get away with fun the way you used to be able to. At any rate, they clearly brought P-c Bob over for a look… and the rest, they say, is history.


Interesting Factoid:
Ironically, I now live within a stone's throw of "Winkipop Beach" in Australia. It's a small world. I have since added many homes in Melbourne's eastern suburbs to our tally of Gratisses. Will I ever stop? I can't think of one good reason why I would.
(, Fri 10 Feb 2012, 8:16, 13 replies)
Not meaning to further stereotype the good peoples of Liverpool, but
Many moons ago I was in Liverpool with my Dad trying hard not to simultaneously laugh and cry because he'd just locked the car keys inside his knackered old Morris Marina at 11 at night with a long drive ahead of us back to Wales.

While we were busy throwing around all manner of petty recriminations, a stereotypically pickey lad with hoodie asked us what was the matter. Upon explaining to him, he proceeded to pull a long bit of metal out of his pocket (possibly a coat hanger of some description), jiggled it down between the glass and the inside of the car door, tutted tutted for a second or two, pulled and... click. Open.

"Er, thanks."
(, Thu 9 Feb 2012, 14:00, Reply)
Ten years ago, my mum took an overdose
She walked to the beach so she could die listening to the sounds of the sea.

A lady walking her dog realised that there was something wrong and called an ambulence. She stayed with mum until it got there, talking to her and keeping her awake. Then she went on her way.

Lady, I have absolutely no idea who you are, but you saved my mum's life that day. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for noticing, for caring, and for doing the right thing. I've always wanted to tell you that, but I have no idea what you even look like. Thank you.
(, Mon 13 Feb 2012, 11:32, 5 replies)
London Underground
I was having a miserable day and sat on the circle line with a scowl upon my face when the bloke opposite me, high as a kite, offered me a sniff of his glue to cheer me up. I politely declined, but it's the thought that counts.
(, Thu 9 Feb 2012, 14:40, 3 replies)
Not all Landlords are evil money grabbing fucksticks
My landlord, Big G, could have a book written on him about the acts of kindness he's bestowed on the world.
Now I'm sure most of us would agree that the majority of landlords aren't exactly known for being concerned more for their tenants than their wallets but G is certainly one of the exceptions and here are a few reasons why.

1 - My previous house share was nothing but trouble due to the fact that in a house of five I was the only one paying bills and for a year didn't see any money given back to me for the other four people so for the last few months I refused to pay anymore bills until I saw proof the others had paid me back, sadly this didn't happen so I decided to move out but was struggling to get the funds together for a deposit etc and I mentioned this to a friend of mine who was tenant of G's.
The following day I get a phone call from an unknown number and the voice on the other end turns out to be my future landlord telling me that my mate had mentioned in passing the trouble I was having and that if I was interested there was a spare room going at the house my mate was staying at and if I was interested it was all mine. I tried to explain to him that I was unable to do it as I was struggling to get money together to which he replied I wasnt to worry about that, if I moved in the following week he'd only charge me for the last two weeks of the month and wouldnt take a deposit from me as he trusts my friends opinion of me and that's good enough for him.
After a few months of living there I had a ton of work offered to me which brought to me a rather princley sum so because of the kindness and trust G showed me when he'd never even met me I gave him two months rent as a deposit and booked and paid for a meal and drinks for him and his wife at their favourite restaraunt as a thank you.

2. If any of us are ever ill he'll keep phoning up every other day to make sure we're okay and if we need anything from the shops bringing in.

3. The house I'm in at the moment is an old one and suffers from things old houses tend to suffer from like leaks, drafts etc and G does do his best to get any problem fixed as fast as possible before the resident drama queen starts moaning but sometimes he can't get the plumbers/joiners round in time. Now I'm quite handy when it comes to DIY so I don't mind fixing things when they occur, infact I quite enjoy it, to stop the resident Drama Queen bitching (side note, he never attempts to fix things himself, seriously the guy phoned up the other week due a lightbulb burning out.) and because of me doing these jobs that have ranged from rewiring a room to put extra powerpoints in to putting up shelves there was a parcel next to the front door on christmas day with my name on it and when I opened it it contained a set of brand new hand tools (I'm old school and rarely use electrical ones) and a note saying to read in private. I did and it contained the following

"Dear Sarc

Thank you so much for dealing with the jobs round the house this past year without being asked, I noticed your tools where falling to bits so I hope these will suit you, Also because you've helped me out by saving me money I'd like you to accept the offer of me halving your rent for six months as an incredibly big thank you!

Cheers G.

ps - You don't know anything about cars do you?"

Now I dont know if these count as random acts of kindness but I bet you'd be hard pushed to find a more down to earth and reasonable Landlord, strangely he reminds me of my late grandfather somewhat so I wonder if that explains why I get on with him so well
(, Sat 11 Feb 2012, 0:50, 7 replies)
An old lady at the cashpoint asked me to check her balance
So I pushed her
(, Fri 10 Feb 2012, 11:41, 3 replies)
When I was 12, and used to walk to school
there was always an old man sitting by the window of a basement maisonette, watching the world go by. When I caught his eye, he waved at me, and so every day I used to wave back at him, and be greeted with a lovely smile. I guess he was lonely, like most old people living on their own are.

When it came to the end of the December term, I gave him a Christmas card and some chocolates. He cried.

This was back in the 70s, before all the witch-hunting about paedophilia. Nowadays I guess everyone would think he was perving over the schoolchildren. Sad, how the world is now, isn't it.
(, Thu 9 Feb 2012, 14:44, 3 replies)
Repost (originally from the botched jobs question if that isn't self-evident)
Bought our first house earlier this last year - Victorian terrace. Needed a whole load of work doing, including getting a radiator moved and a bunch of dead pipe taken out from under the floors.

The plumbers came and went - all good. Mrs. H went off on a Saturday to catch up with a mate leaving me to sort everything out after them.

I was in the middle of replacing the floorboards when I put a nail right through the brand new radiator spur I'd just had installed.

There are 2 lessons in this:

1 - Do not do it.
2 - If you're stupid enough to do it, then leave the nail where it is until you have taken the pressure off your heating system.

I failed on both counts, put the nail through the pipe, and as soon as I heard the water hissing I yanked the nail out, thereby breaking the partial seal it had created and causing the entire pressure of the central heating system to discharge over me, the walls and ceiling.

So I then - completely unnecessarily as it happens, turned off the water at the main and drained off every drop of water from the whole house. An overreaction yeah, but I wasn't thinking most clearly at the time.

I then did what any calm and rational man does in such a circumstance - started wandering up and down the street swearing profusely under my breath, wondering what the bloody hell I was going to do and how I was going to explain to the missus that we had no water and would need to call out a plumber to sort this schoolboy bloody error of mine out. Thinking as a minimum a weekend callout and replace the entire length of pipe... Expense... Fear...

When suddenly...

I passed a van marked "JBW Building Services" (www.jbwbuildingservices.co.uk - I carry their card to this day). In hope against hope I rang the number on the side of the van. Heard the answering voice in my phone, and also in my free ear coming from round the side of the house the van was next to. Not daring to think that there might be a way out of my stupidity, I located the guy in the yard. Turns out he was just in the neighbourhood doing a bit of work for his ex. I explained my predicament and threw myself at his mercy.

Half an hour later he's round at my house. Rather than replace the length of pipe he cut a small length of slightly wider pipe, removed the section where my nail had buckled the original pipe, and soldered a very neat little cuff over the site of the damage. Everything then refilled, up to pressure, good as new.

I had to physically press a tenner on him for this service - he'd happily have walked out of the door with nothing.

By the time the missus got home, I had everything cleaned up and dried off, the boards back in place, and no evidence whatsoever of my complete idiocy. It would have been the perfect crime, but I 'fessed up, purely because I just had to tell someone!

John - you don't strike me as a b3ta person, but if you are and you read this, then know that you are a god among men.
(, Thu 9 Feb 2012, 13:21, 2 replies)
I once gave a complete stranger
The most memorable fuck of her life. Her account of it to the police was remarkably thorough.
(, Mon 13 Feb 2012, 22:57, 6 replies)

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