Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Reply - Polly Toynbee

I have to be honest with you, until yesterday, I wasn’t hugely familiar with Polly Toynbee.

That having been said, she was ranked at 489th out of more than 3,100 'Iconic British Individuals' who were voted for, (largely) by people I don’t know, on my Facebook group, so obviously plenty of people out there do know how Polly ‘rolls’, to use a slightly irritating Americanism.

Before writing to her all I knew was that she’s a journalist, perhaps slightly left of centre and that she once put the kettle on, but that’s as far as my knowledge went.

I have since done my homework and have suckled up to the bosom of mother Wikipedia learning, amongst other things, that her real name is Mary, in 2007 she scooped up the ‘Columnist of the Year’ gong at the British Press Awards and that she once worked in a burger bar.

I have no idea whether any of those facts actually have their tendrils firmly rooted in the soil of truth, but I don’t really care, all I know is that Polly is an incredibly generous lady.

Not only has she replied to my recent letter but she also stuffed a £25 quid cheque into the envelope made out to the charity that I am working with on this project, Help for Heroes. What an absolute star!

The fact that she also informed me that she wouldn’t be able to meet me to sign the flags due to her ‘hectic’ life right now, didn’t ruffle my feathers one jot.

I mean how could I be upset with one so benevolent, however outré their political views.

Ms Toynbee, I salute you.

(and hope you got my follow up email)

Friday, 27 August 2010

A Message For Agents (Please Be Kind)

Question- what do the following ten individuals have in common:

John Craven - Former Newsround host and current discusser of rural matters.

Desmond Morris - Zooologist, ethologist(?), authour, TV presenter and surrealist painter.

James May - TV Presenter and driver.

John Simpson
- BBC Journalist and foreign correspondent.

Peter Jones - Entrepeneur, businessman and Dragon.

Lisa Rogers - TV Presenter and siren.

Mervyn King - Governor of the Bank of England and namesake to darts player.

Dave Gorman - Comedian and author.

Gaby Roslin - Radio host.

Fred Goodwin - Much lambasted former bank manager.

No, they’re not all about to be called up by Fabio Capello to fill the troublesome position on the left hand side of the England midfield. The answer is that they too will have all received my letter within the next few days.

It hasn’t escaped my attention that I’m having to pin a large amount of faith on agents, press officers, personal assistants and publicists at the moment. Whether or not they are actually passing my letters on to their clients I have no idea. I frequently envisage some harassed young lady picking up a phone to one of the 500 and saying something like “you’ve just been sent this really weird letter from a guy who wants you to sign a flag….”

At least I hope that’s what they’re saying, they may of course just be chucking my unopened epistle straight in the bin.

I have now sent just under 100 of the 500 letters and replies have been only slightly above the 10% mark which is a little bit disappointing but then I’ve learnt that these things tend to snowball with publicity so that’s nothing that a four page spread in the Metro can’t cure although we'll have to wait until all of these cats in bins stories die down so theres a little bit of space.

Right, I’m off to join the Mary Bale lynch mob.

Thursday, 19 August 2010

Reply - David Walliams

"Computer says no" is the 'hilarious' stock phrase repeated up and down the country by grinning teenagers and by adults who haven't really grown up yet.

It was, of course, spawned from the show Little Britain, a programme headlined by Matt Lucas and the aforementioned Mr Walliams and one that featued other side-splitting catchphrases such as "I'm a lady" and "I don't like it".

Brilliant, how do they think of them?

Anyway, on this occassion it appears that David (see above), doing his worst impression of the Man from Delmonte, also says 'no'.

The email from his assistant Lucy, who was kind enough to reply, stated:
"Dear Julian, Thank you for your letter to David Walliams regarding the Union Jack for Barack. He hopes your project works well, but regrets he is unable to be involved. Best wishes...."

I think it's time to send out some more of my letters.

Thursday, 12 August 2010

Reply - Richard Wilson

Despite my recent drive to consume healthier foodstuffs, including a new brand of margarine, my cholesterol level is apparently still far too high. I can't believe it's not better.

From now on I am only going to be eating products that contain "l. casei immunitas" or "ylang-ylang" or "bifidus digestivum" or other words that have been made-up by overpaid advertisers.

I wonder if stage, screen and TV actor Richard Wilson has high cholesterol?

I hope not. I wouldn't wish clogged arteries on anyone, even my worst enemy (aka Darryl). No-one should be forced to suffer jogging or mung bean casseroles. Richard is miles from being my worst enemy, quite the opposite actually because after answering this latest call to arms, I could almost call him a friend. In fact I'm increasingly becoming beholden to him as once again he's agreed to help me in my hour of need.

Let me take you back four years, to a time when Lily Allen was just another unknown precocious teenager and bankers hadn't spoiled the world. It was at that time, on my last project, that Richard was prepared to meet me outside the New Wimbledon Theatre in order to shake my hand, purely to try and help me to win a bet. He was playing Buttons in Cinderella if memory serves. All rather surreal.

Well once again, this extremely genuine and down-to-earth man is going out of his way to assist, his PA Janet phoning to tell me that he'd be happy to do so and I am now awaiting his agent Deborah co-ordinating a date for Richard to sign the flag.

Many thanks again owed to one and all.

Friday, 6 August 2010

Signing 2 - Boris Johnson

Do you remember Ian Dury, the late, great protopunk performer?

I do, but then, I'm old.

He once sung a song called "Reasons to be Cheerful, Part 3", which to be brutally frank isn't the greatest ballad of all time, but that's irrelevant, I only mention it because I have several reasons to be cheerful today including:
  1. The football season (English not American) started this evening, albeit only with the relatively turgid affair of Norwich v Watford, but on the bright side this means that the Premier League will also be arriving in short order.
  2. Chilli peppers have started to appear on the chilli plant on my balcony meaning that I'll soon be able to save £1.97 on my weekly grocery shop. During these harsh economic times that is something which is not to be sniffed at (a bit like the Glade Plug-in Bamboo and White Fresia© air freshner in my living room, I've learned).
  3. Boris Johnson has become the latest from my list of '500 Iconic Britons' to sign my flag.
  4. I have learned how to use the 'bullet point' function on Blogger.
That having been said, Boris's signing wasn't conducted in the most conventional of ways for two reasons, namely:
  1. The Mayor of London only signed one of my two flags ie the one being auctioned off for Help for Heroes and not the one which is going to be sent to Barack Obama. This may be due to the fact there's a little bit of previous between the two men see here or perhaps simply because what I am doing could be termed 'political' and being a politician himself, the Mayor didn't think it appropriate to get involved in that part of my project and
  2. I wasn't actually present for the signing of the second flag, which probably explains why the pictures above and below are of far better quality than most of the others on here.
The flag wasn't signed in my presence due to the fact that Boris, if you haven't been aware, has been pretty busy over the last few weeks with the launch of a ceratin public bike system here in London and has been to-ing and fro-ing like a newton's cradle for the last few days. I was thus invited to either hang around City Hall for a few hours awaiting any potential arrival by the Mayor or to leave the flag at reception and pick it up the next day.

Sadly I have a day job that involves finding jobs for lawyers, I'm sorry about that, someone's got to do it, and so the second course of action was deemed more preferable.

It was, though, signed and it goes without saying that I'm incredibly grateful to the Mayor and am equally grateful to his assistants Ann and Rebecca for helping to sort out all of the logistics.

In other news, I was informed the other day by a friend of mine that I have the writing style of someone with Aspergers Syndrome to which I replied that so does Mark Haddon and it didn't do him any harm (The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time won the Whitbread prize in 2003).

Sunday, 1 August 2010

Signing 1 - Jeffrey Archer

So it’s one down and 99 to go. The first of the "500 iconic Britons" as voted for by you, yes you the public (well maybe not you yourself) on my Facebook page, has now put ink to polyethylene terephthalate meaning that they have signed my Union Jack flag. Once it has 100 messages written on it, it will then be sent to US President Barack Obama courtesy of Louis Susman as a reminder of the ‘Special Relationship’ that exists or perhaps until a few months ago, used to exist between our two countries.

Louis Susman, although sounding like a friend of my fathers, is actually the US Ambassador to the UK, or so I have been led to believe, and therefore I am guessing that he lives in that grand central London house adjoined to that huge, verdant garden (commonly known as Regents Park).

Several weeks ago I was informed by Jeffrey Archer’s helpful PA Alison that the author and former MP would be willing to sign my flags (the other one will eventually be auctioned off by Help for Heroes) and so last Tuesday, I made my way to Vauxhall tube station before taking a short mid-morning stroll to Jeffrey’s stunning apartment, narrowly avoiding having my head crushed like a melon under the wheels of a London Duck Tours amphibious vehicle that veered sharply out of an alleyway by the Thames.

On arrival I was directed by the porter up to the penthouse flat where I was met by Alison who ushered me into a gloriously sunlit and cream coloured apartment that had floor to ceiling views along the river and from where one could take in the Houses of Parliament, the London Eye, or if you looked hard enough and were that way inclined, the Ferrier Council Estate in Kidbrooke.

Jeffrey entered the room soon thereafter and clearly didn’t remember me from our previous meeting which was at a time when I was engaged on a similar charity-related project – ‘Greeting the 500’.

I’m quite convinced that he didn’t remember me because on asking him “Jeffrey do you remember that we previously met when I was engaged on a similar charity-related project – Greeting the 500?” he replied “No.”

Well anyway I gave him a brief background as to this frolic that I am currently engaged in and it seems as though he has quite staunch views on the subject because after I had mentioned words like ‘Obama’ and ‘Special Relationship’, he mentioned a few choice words of his own which I shan’t repeat here.

So then, as the muted video above displays, we arranged the flag on his elegant white-wooden dining table…ash perhaps…possibly beech, taking care to place a copy of a newspaper under the flag, since my magic marker pen has been the cause of many a staining accident in the past and Jeffrey then signed it with a message to Barack.

Jeffrey’s message was just two words (and not those two words). In my opinion his message was apt, concise and humorous and I’m not going to tell you what they were right now, you’ll just have to by my book if it ever comes out - or else magnify the photograph at the bottom of this post.

I was recently furnished with the home address of Jamie Oliver by my girlfriend’s sister’s husband who once did a bit of handywork for Jamie and his wife, I think he rustled them up a salad or something, so I am now off to prepare one of my standard begging letters for this ‘iconic’ celebrity chef. I will of course keep you, my ever faithful reader (singular) in the loop.

Ok Jacqui :)

PS Here's Jeffrey with the flag taken at a jaunty angle