Things People Ask Me!

How did you come up with the idea to have tea with 100 strangers?

This idea - to meet strangers for tea - was born of two minds, over several months at a hamburger restaurant, a police search on the grounds of 'suspicion of terrorism', and many cups of tea. Not long after moving to England - I began to feel as if I needed a new creative outlet of some sort - something to do to pass the time I guess. I worked with a gentleman by the name of Stefan Tarr at that point. Stefan and I served hamburgers to people. Stefan needed a new creative outlet as well.

Deciding that we should start some sort of project together, we began to brainstorm. Our initial idea was to muck about on the London Underground network - but with an alarming swiftness, the police put a stop to this. Slightly disappointed about the fact that we could no longer continue to map out to London Tube Network as a tourist attraction - highlighting all the glorious things it has to offer within it's stations - Stefan and I decided to have a cup of tea.

Over that cup of tea (and several others too) we started to talk about how it would be pretty cool to have tea with Her Majesty, The Queen of England...

No, I'm not joking.

We talked about how we might achieve this for a while. We also talked about how life in England seemed a little less friendly than the lives we had both known before arriving in a new country. We noticed the lack of connection; the obsession with self service; the way that people don't want to sit next to one another on the bus - let along look at or speak to one another.

And at that point - it all came together. We would have tea with strangers. 100 of them.

So there used to be two of you then?

Correct! After the first few cups of tea - Stefan's career in the London advertising world began to pick up. I was still serving hamburgers. It became apparent rather quickly that serving hamburgers, working in advertising, and having tea with strangers - strangers who may also be serving hamburgers, or working in advertising, or doing any number of other things - would become difficult to balance. With Stefan's focus on making pretty cool advertisements - I decided that my focus might as well be to keep on meeting strangers for tea!

Stefan is still kicking butt in London as a copywriter - and if you happen to bump into him, buy the guy a cup of tea! I'm sure he'd be more than happy to sit down and have a yarn!

How do you find the people who you have tea with?

It all started with an ad on Gumtree. That kicked off Cup # 1 with Lee Allen! Though, now - I meet people in all sorts of ways. I find some of them - people who I think are interesting, people who's stories and lives inspire me. Sometimes people find me - they find this website and decide to email me, they see me on Twitter or Facebook, they hear me on the radio, or hear about me from a friend. And others - they just happen. Like meeting Sean Burns on the train to Windsor, or calling an ambulance for Lam Duong. I look for opportunities to meet people and speak with them everyday, all around me.

How far have you traveled for a cup of tea with a stranger?

Pretty far, I guess - but some of my big trips have been somewhat circumstantial. Within the UK - I have branched out from London to Portsmouth, Leamington Spa, and Beaminster - to name a few. Being opportunistic on a trip to Australia over the holidays last year - I found myself having tea on the radio in Brisbane - which lead me to 3 other cups of tea over there. More recently, I popped over to Philadelphia, Pensylvania to meet a lovely lady named Maureen Neville - and squeezed in another cup of tea in Seattle, Washington during a brief trip home to Vancouver, Canada.

I currently have invites from several other areas of the world - and fully intend to get to each and every one of those strangers at some point in time. For now though, life has me anchored in London - so cups of tea over this way are much easier to schedule!

What is the plan once you've reached your goal of 100 cups?

This might be the most common question that I get asked. And really, it is one of the only ones that I cannot yet provide an answer for. Will I write a book? Will I keep having tea beyond 100 cups? I'm not really sure at this point. What I do know is that I am too far in now to look back. These strangers - these conversations, they are changing me in the greatest of ways, and I am very excited to see where the rest of the journey will take me. Will I write a book at the end of it all? Perhaps. But we'll wait until I reach 100 to decide. I certainly don't want the desire to write a book to drive or affect the project itself. This is based on something organic, something natural - the last thing I want to do is let my intentions get in the way. This is me, talking to people, about talking to people. If I have a story worth telling when it's all over - we'll see...

Is there anyone in particular you'd like to meet for tea - anyone famous?

Yes! Many people in fact. Some that come to mind right now are Danny Wallace (British writer and media personality), Kelsey Grammer, Chris Martin, Zach Anner - and as funny as it sounds, I plan to reserve cup 100 for the Queen of England (still not a joke)! But really, I think the celebrities and individuals I am drawn to - I am because I want to have a conversation with them as ordinary people. I might admire them for the work they have done in the public eye, but I also admire them for the people who they are in private. After all, that's all they are, aren't they? People like you and I?

If you have any other questions you'd like to ask - fire them at me! [] I'll update this page as often as the questions come in! And also, thanks! Thanks for taking an interest. Now, go make yourself a cup of tea, then go outside and say hello to someone you don't know. You never know what it could lead to!