You see, there’s a little coincidence here. I was trying to create the parody of a cult based around the figure of a character I had called Dr Celery Jones. This name was a parody of the British TV doctor Dr Hilary Jones, but the picture I’d been using to produce ‘photos’ of Dr Jones in dramatic and historic situations was a passport photo that had been passed around the studio at work, to be used to other creative ends, a photo of a work colleague and cheery old man giving his cheesiest bug-eyed grin.
And his name was Chris Jones.
It always begins with a passport photo of Chris Jones, doesn't it? A grinning bespectacled Chris Jones.
Since Danny’s real cult was better than the fictional cult of the fictional Dr Celery Jones, I thought it’d be better Joining than not. And so, by the time I finished the book, I popped my own passport photo into the post, and became a regular on the forum.
The first Joinee I met was Joinee Morrow from Accrington, beneath the hanging box spectacle of David Blaine, by Tower Bridge, London. I remember it being a particularly sunny day, and Phil was an enthusiastic Joinee. We talked a little to some of the homeless folk there, got a picture of the two of us, and went our separate ways (I was just on my lunch-break from work).
There then followed a series of Meets. In September I went to a book-signing in Islington, where I met Gold Joinee Rufous and Gold Joinee Smith for the first time, not to mention The Leader, who signed my copy of the book with the words “We meet at last!” (having seen my name all over the forum). Plus saw the full power of a Gold Joinee Fowler in swing, grinning enthusiastically, buying a multitude of Join Me books to distribute, and getting a photo of Danny with a flag for some Australian Joinees. Then a small one in Croydon, where I met Joinee Andy Smith and Joinee Urwen. Soon after this I created Karmanopoly, the game based on the Join Me Book, plus set up my website, the Karmadrome.
October arrived, and I suggested the idea of Inverse Trick or Treating for Halloween, where we would give out treats as we went around in our Halloween costumes, rather than ask others for them. I brought with me a giant bag of sweets and other treats to a Meet in Hammersmith, which were distributed around the pub around us, and eventually went to Silver Joinee Tebb before her trip home to Australia. Also present were Misters Smith and Rufous, (Ruf turning up for the last hour or so), and Joinee Urwen again, plusJoinee Jess (who left soon after I arrived, Gold Joinee Recabarren and female friend, Joinee Dasa, that Joinee vicar, Simon, who also likes the colour yellow… and I think that was it. Of those of us that chose to dress up, Gold Joinee Smith was Agent Smith, I was, appropriatedly, Neo-esque, and Paula (Recabarren) was a blue-dressed member of the starship Enterprise. Phasers to stun!
November time I was working overtime on producing various leaflets, in particular the various brightly coloured Join Me If ones, and the big A4 6,000 People Worldwide Can't Be wrong ones. I also created a picture of Wallace in Wonderland ("Eat me, Drink me, Join me") for Danny's birthday.
December was Karmagedon time! I arranged a giant duck race ahead of the date with Joinee Benner. The night before the big day I met up with Joinee Dancin' Kev and a friend I keep forgetting the name of. After getting merrily drunk, leaving flyers everywhere, and going on a trip (my first) to the Madras Valley to sample the Chicken Dansak, we persuaded the chef to come to the big event the next day. Which he did, complete with passport photo.
Karmageddon morning brought together the largest number of Joinees I'd seen in one place together, when I reached the Tate Modern, next to the Millenium Bridge over which we would start our race. I had brought with me Joinee Fru, meeting her at Euston Station just thirty minutes earlier, and providing her with a duck of her own. Unfortunately, having worked out the route for the duck-race well in advance, and where it would end, no sooner had the ducks flown from our hands than the masses followed the wrong person off the wrong end of the bridge, to the nearest tube. So we never did find out who won.
Seeing thirty or so Joinees trying to cram onto a tube train is a brilliant sight.
Upon reaching Tottenham Court Station, the largest number of Joinees I'd ever seen in one places together shifted to somewhere in the hundreds. And there was The Leader. After a dramatic speech, poses for cameras, and general banter with the troops, the Karma Army descended on Oxford Street, to bring cheer and happiness to the Christmas shoppers, and also to distribute two gifts each. I personally gave out a pair of big Christmas stocking, stuffed full of chocolate and topped with a teddy-bear each.
No-one had told the police about this particular 'demonstration', so we were slowed down at one stage.
After the big walk, we retired to the Cock, only to find not enough room for everyone. The festivities went on into the evening, Danny handed out mugs for special achievements, we sang the Join Me Anthem for TV cameras, some of us were interviewd, some of us played Karmanopoly, I met Joinees I'd met before, and those I hadn't, and had a great time. I even got Silvered, perhaps due to my creative endeavours, but I think also due to a good word being put in by Joinee Urwen.
2004 - I told myself that, as a Silver, I had to get more involved. So during January I began work on Joinee Top Trumps, I collected gifts for 'old man' Colin and presented them to him at the Raymond Price Pub Crawl. I also agreed with Joinee Fru to raise money for the charity Mind and go on a trek across Peru with her in September.
February involved a trip to Oxford for a Valentine's Meet, and later travelled to Nottingham, on the 29th, to dress up as Simona for Silver Joinee Benner, partially so he could get one of the elements of the Join Me Anthem he was collecting, two so I could raise some charity money. This may happen every 29th Feb, so watch out!
March included a trip to Amsterdam, for the first Joint Meet. It also included some of us being filmed for TV. When it was finally aired, Joinee Arkless Gray, Joinee Philips and Joinee Holly appeared a lot, whilst I looked, according to Ruf, like a Joinee stalker, hanging around nearby. Serves me right for being the quiet one.
April was the date of the first Dead Meat, a cinema trip to see a preview of Shaun Of The Dead. A second Dead Meat of sorts occurred after the first Good Good Friday, on the Bad Bad Saturday. GGF 1 was one of the best day's out ever, even if the night went a bit pear shaped.
June was Join Me June time, when I was made Gold. I also arranged a picnic in Regent's Park for the Sunday, the day after, to official start the Karmic Year of the Duck. It was about this time we found out Laura was pregnant.
July was reletively quiet.
August was time for the JOINverness Pilgrimage, and later, Join ME Cottaging. Both wonderful experiences, and good fun getting to see parts of the UK I hadn't seen before with, of course, the best of travelling companions and friends when we got there. And at the end of the month, I turned 30.
Being, in my own head, the Unofficial Designer for Join Me, I've done a little freelance work for Danny. However, of three different projects, only one of them has seen the light of day, and that was the light of an Australian day, being an advert for the book in a magazine there. However, all my other work has been made freelly available rather than been dumped. And I'm quite happy to take on other Joinees design project. If it's Join Me related, it's pretty much free!
Amongst the very many things I've created are:
- Joinee Top Trumps
- Join Me Playing Cards
- Mountains of leaflets
- Mountains of flyers
- Designs that can be found on t-shirts and other things here