Come and get it, still two bob cheaper than the Big Issue

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The Independent Online
I DON'T know about you, but I still like to do a good deed every day. Of course, I don't mean that I literally do a good deed every day, because once you start hitting that sort of average the strain gets pretty immense. Anyway, I'm a pretty busy sort of a guy, so I can't really spend the time looking for someone to be nice to and then being nice to him as well.

So what I do is try to get seven good deeds done over the weekend, which will take me through the next week to the oasis of the next weekend without having to plan and execute any unnecessary acts of goodness on busy weekdays.

Let's be honest, I'm a pretty busy kind of guy at the weekend as well. Yes, I like sitting out in the garden on a Sunday morning. But I've got to have the mobile phone with me. I can't relax without it. I get quite a lot of calls on a Sunday morning, I can tell you. Mostly from people who have been trying to get me all week with no success because I've been permanently engaged. So they ring me on Sunday morning and I put them on hold, and then pretty soon my wife comes over and answers the phone and says: 'I'm afraid he can't come to the phone right now,' and switches it off.

But don't get me wrong. I don't refuse to talk to everyone. Sometimes the people who ring me on a Sunday morning are close colleagues of mine. They've been trying to reach me all week as well. So you can imagine that I don't get as much time as I would like on a Sunday to do my seven good deeds. That's why I delegate them. That's right. I get someone to do them for me. Jackson, that's who. He's my personal assistant. He does my good deeds for me on a Sunday. He usually rings in about 12 or one, just as my wife is bringing over my first Bloody Mary of the day.

'Hi, MK,' he says. 'Done them.'

'Good work, Jackson,' I tell him. 'OK, run me briefly through the good deed roster.'

I don't see why good deeds shouldn't be placed on a business footing, same as anything else. I like to be briefed and kept in touch with everything, and that includes my good deeds, especially if someone else is doing them. I would hate to think that Jackson was performing sub- standard good deeds on my behalf, or cutting corners with the product.

'Well, MK,' he might say, 'I brought my wife a cup of tea in bed.' Or, 'I went and bought the Sunday papers.'

'Jackson, Jackson,' I might say, 'You don't really think buying the Sunday papers qualifies as a good deed, do you?'

'Well, MK,' he might say, 'you have to remember that I live five miles from the nearest newsagent. It's an effort to get the papers. Do you know what I mean?'

I haven't the faintest idea what he's talking about. I haven't gone out and bought a paper for years. I get them delivered to me at home and I get them at the office. That's enough for anyone, I would have thought.

'How did you get to the newsagent, Jackson?'

'I drove.'

'Drove? Good God, Jackson. That's not a good deed. That's almost a pleasure. Walk there, man, or at least get on the bike.'

'Sir, you want me to go again?'

'I leave it to you, Jackson.'

He'll go. I know him. But something terrible happened this weekend. Jackson was on holiday. Went abroad with his family. I caught him before he went.

'Where you going, Jackson?'

'France, MK.'

'Going to be doing my good deeds over there?'

'No, sir.'

I couldn't persuade him. So that's how come I was out yesterday buying Sunday papers. And while I was going along, I passed this man selling something called the Big Issue. I stopped to talk to him. (Talking to a street vendor: one of my seven good deeds) It turned out that this magazine was run by the homeless to raise funds or something. I was intrigued.

'How much is it?'

'60p'.

'But that's just an approximate price. But most people give a little or even a lot more,' he said. 'They like to do it.'

'You mean,' I said, open-

mouthed, 'that there is a suggested price but that people can pay what they want?'

'That's it.'

'And they always pay more?'

''Often more. Never less.'

And that, to be frank, is how the idea came to me. To make the Independent the first daily paper with no fixed price, for which readers could pay as much over the odds as they liked. I would like to explain this strategy in more detail tomorrow.

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