This weekend sees the first Great Get Together – the largest neighbourhood celebrations since the Queen’s diamond jubilee. Inspired by the late MP Jo Cox, they are timed to coincide with the first anniversary of her tragic murder. If you’re British, the idea of joining in and bonding with fellow members of your local community is possibly filling you with fear and dread. It’s bound to be a bit awkward – part of the point of the whole event is to bring together all aspects of our society and to talk to neighbours with opposing viewpoints. But it won’t be that bad if you follow this useful guide, which should help you navigate it all.
DO … make a point of remembering the name of someone you meet at your Great Get Together event.
DON’T … spend the next few months winging it by calling them “buddy”, “champ” or “treacle” every time you bump into them down the precinct.
DO … take along a musical instrument. If you’re an accomplished guitarist, launching a singalong or leading an impromptu nursery rhyme group for some young children is a delightful way of bringing everyone together.
DON’T … hook your mobile phone up to a portable speaker and use the event as an opportunity to play the latest demos that you’ve been working on in your bedroom studio under the name of Silicone Agony. Anyway, “drill techno” isn’t even a genre of music – it’s just something you’ve made up.
DO … take along a bottle of wine or a couple of chilled cans of medium-strength beer to add a bit of zing to proceedings.
DON’T … find a quiet corner and take up residence accompanied by a litre of cooking sherry, telling anyone who’ll listen why last year’s dismissal from your job was unfair and what you did definitely wasn’t gross misconduct.
DO … be prepared for the possibility that you might just forge one or two meaningful friendships as a result of taking part in the Great Get Together. That’s what it’s all about – this could be a life-changing moment for you.
DON’T … burble a few mind-numbing pleasantries for 10 minutes before fleeing for the safety of your own living room. And when you next encounter someone you spoke to at the Great Get Together five days from now, don’t put your head down to avoid eye contact and/or dash across the road to evade them.
DO … politely decline if someone offers you food that isn’t quite to your liking.
DON’T … respond to their offer of a sausage roll by launching into an aggressive lecture on the mechanically recovered meat production process. Similarly, try not to shriek if you’ve got a mild lactose intolerance and they offer you a milky coffee.
DO … make casual chat about the weather if you find yourself drying up and stuck for conversation. If you don’t know what the forecast is for the next few days, make something up – everyone knows that weather forecasters are liars and that no two forecasts are the same.
DON’T … do anything if it’s a blazing hot day and you can feel your skin beginning to fry. Asking to “borrow” someone else’s sun cream is a blatant breach of the unwritten social contract. Just style it out and deal with tomorrow’s inevitable agony in private.
DO … compliment someone if they’re wearing a nice hat or aesthetically pleasing piece of jewellery.
DON’T … ask about the story behind their elaborate tattoo – when it comes to being inked, there’s a 50% chance that the inspiration for it was a majestically sad life event.
DO … turn up 35 minutes after the advertised start time. You know that awkward conversation at the start of Big Brother when the first two people have gone into the house? Yeah, that.
DON’T … spend too much time in the company of any one person. There’s a strong chance that their true personality will start to reveal itself once they’ve attached themselves to you like a limpet – before you know it, you’ll be fending off requests from them to come along to the My Little Pony appreciation society, of which they’re the treasurer.
DO … relax and enjoy yourself.