Join Date: June 23rd, 2004

Silver Date: GGF 2, March 25th, 2005

Gold Date: K3 - 2005

Platinum Date: K4 - 2nd December 2006

Birthday: 17th April

Where?: Durham, UK

Website?: Join Me Swap Shop

In his own wordsEdit

The following entry from the now defunct Joinee Community blogs sums up why I love Join Me

Been meaning to blog this all week, but I’ve not been too well. I’ve started to write it a few times, but the words weren’t coming out right, and what I want to say means so much to me that I had to get it right.

And after all that, I can sum up what I want to say to you all in 3 words:

You guys rock!

I suppose after that build-up, I had better go into a bit more detail.

I had a great night at the Cock on Saturday for mine and the boy Varma’s joint almost-birthday bash (or Varmageddon as practically nobody was calling it)

I have to admit that when Varma first suggested me coming to London for my birthday about 2½ months ago, bearing in mind that at the time I had never met him and had only spoken to him on messenger once before, I thought he was mad. At that point the only joinees that I really knew were Matt Bee and Claire, even though I felt as though I knew so many of you from months of lurking on the blogs and forum. So anyway, I thought let’s humour him. I’ll tell him I’ll think about it; can’t make any promises; money’s tight; Durham’s a long way to come from for a night out.

So, a month or so passes and GGF2 approaches. I wasn’t going to attend, as I don’t feel comfortable around strangers, especially big groups of them, so the thought of spending a day in a strange city with a group of people who I have little in common with other than this love of a crazy yet fantastic idea that one person doing something nice for another person can lead to hundreds and thousands of people being nice to each other, filled me with dread. I realised though that the only way that Matt was going to be able to attend was if I shared the cost with him. For those who don’t know, Matt has, often without even realising it, helped me through some really tough times over the past few years, so it was a no-brainer really. I had to go to GGF2. And I’m so glad I did. In all my years, I’ve never felt so welcomed. I have to admit that I spent most of the day just sitting quietly, trying to take in the fact that I was meeting all these people who until that point had just been names on a website.

The day really reignited my passion for Join Me, and I knew that I had to actually start getting out there and meeting more joinees. The silvering was also a lovely bonus. Another couple of weeks roll by and it’s time for the opening of the Join Me Exhibition at the Art of Propaganda in Wakefield. Aha, I think, a chance to meet some more joinees. It turns out to be a fabulous day. I get to meet Whitby and spend some time chatting to Danny and enjoy my first ever Chicken Dansak in the company of some of the nicest people I’ve ever met.

Of course, as all of this is going on, I still have Varma nagging me to come to London for our birthday, and by now I’m rapidly coming round to the idea. £20 for a coach ticket and the offer of a place to crash at the House of Love. Sod it, why not?

So, Saturday rolls round and I wake up feeling dreadful. I have really bad toothache and can barely swallow. I’m not sure I can face the idea of 6½ hours on the coach feeling like this. Do I cry off? I can’t. People are expecting me and are making the effort to come out to celebrate the birthday of a relative stranger, so I set off on my journey. I arrive at Oxford Circus at about quarter to six. This is earlier than we had planned to meet, so I decide to hunt out the Horse and Groom for a swift half, so that I can arrive at the Cock fashionably late. As it happens, I still arrive at the Cock before anyone else and have a nervous half hour thinking that I’m going to be the only person there.

Slowly, but surely, people start arriving. There’s Varma - phew, at least one person I recognise - rapidly followed by Marco. More and more people arrive and we’re all laughing and joking like we’ve known each other for years. Beer is being drunk and Varma’s doing tequila in the wrong order. What’s that? There’s a parcel for me behind the bar? I’ve never had post arrive for me at a pub before! Thank you Joinee Parkin! People I’ve never even spoken to before are buying me drinks and handing me cards and presents. It’s all a bit overwhelming, but in a great way.

And then, all too soon, it’s over. Time to head off to Claire’s for the best night’s sleep I have ever had on the world’s smallest sofa before making the long coach journey back to Durham on Sunday morning.

So, a huge thank you to Marco, Chris, Hinton, Joe, Jesus, Gary, Kate, Holly, Anunciada, Claire, Steve, Rufous, Gatesy, Scott, and not forgetting Jamie “great p***” Cullum (he really is tiny) and any one else who I’ve missed, for making Saturday night the best almost-birthday that I’ve ever had, and especially Varma for coming up with the crazy idea in the first place.

I love you all.

View a picture of Gold Joinee Collins

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