Sometimes it’s the little things that make you smile. The small, silly everyday moments that make Mondays more manageable, Tuesdays more tolerable and Fridays more fun.
Around January last year, I decided I want to do something to cheer myself up a little (I’m never a fan of January) and got to thinking about Herbert the origami dinosaur we found in a cafe when we first moved to London. It was just a small thing, but something that definitely made my day a ‘good day’.
And it got me thinking… maybe we should make a little something that would cheer someone else up, as well as me.
Oriagimi dinosaurs are hard. All my T-Rexs fall over (still) and all my versions of Herbert don’t even look like Herbert.
So we tried origami swans… much easier but lacking a little something. And then the penguins…
Which looked like little wise guys… and always turned out with slightly different posture than expected. (Check out the guy on the right… is he drunk?)
And then I started thinking about the people (myself included) I wanted to cheer up a little… Londoners.
Now London might be know for many, many wonderful things (culture, opportunities, tea) but it’s not very well know for its cheerful disposition. And if you commute daily, you know why. All of life is on the Tube, you can see every emotion, up close… and sometimes it’s rather depressing.
But that said for every grump pushing people rudely out of the way, there are the people who help others with heavy luggage, who share knowing smiles at the behaviour of others, who give up their seats for people who need them… It’s not always a picture perfect moment, but it’s real.
Now pigeons are ubiquitous in London. These wonky birds are as much a part of London as red telephone boxes and buses. In fact, there’s probably more pigeons than anything else in London. And somehow they summed all this up to me. The good, the bad, the slightly grubby.
So we decided to make a pigeon. A positive pigeon.
A small, nice thing to leave behind for someone else to find.
Due to my work, I travel regularly-ish so this very first pigeon, I left in a San Francisco coffee shop – and wrote inside him saying ‘with love from London’.
Then once back in London, we tried to leave one wherever we went… in a cafe, in a restaurant, in a bar.
Sometimes with a little positive note inside saying something nice to the finder, and sometimes they were blank. (Mainly because I didn’t always have a pen on me.)
It was silly and a little 5 minutes of fun but we did wonder if anyone actually ever ‘found’ them…
And then we saw this… the first pigeon we ever left in London found by someone and well, that made my day.
So we kept on making them…
And making them…
And then we made some more…
By the summer, we had pigeons on us wherever we went…
At one point, we went on a School of Life tour about London (yes, we’re London nerds) and at the end of the tour, the woman running it spoke about the surprising things that London sometimes throws at you.
For instance, she said, she’d heard about people leaving origami birds in cafes as a little gift for the next person who came along.
There’s a high chance she didn’t mean us of course but at the end of the tour we gave her a pigeon anyway!
And then we had our silliest pigeon moment so far… the one that hurt my cheeks I was smiling so much.
We left two positive pigeons in a modern art gallery – just on a ledge in the stairs, thinking that someone might pass them by, find them and that be a nice thing.
While we were standing in a queue for part of an exhibit, we saw two security guards holding the pigeons – looking at them quizzically.
I instantly felt guilty, we shouldn’t have left them there… but then… both of the security guards started smiling. Like big smiles. And I remembered the nice notes I’d written inside them. (I think one said ‘you’re totally awesome’!)
We watched (me blushing and grinning) as they showed them to other people, still smiling, and then placed them in with the actual exhibit. If you look very, very, very carefully in the above picture you can see a tiny white and green thing on the edge of the piano.
We left with bigger smiles than even the security guards had had.
So it turns out, it’s really nice seeing someone find the little something you made… so we kept going.
A piccione for Rome…
A due for Copenhagen…
A few tauben for Berlin…
Then we got in Autumn… yes, we’ve been leaving/littering (!) London with pigeons for that long…
And so to finish off our year of positive pigeons… we made some Christmas editions…
In December, we’re going to leave them wherever we go… if you find one, he’s yours to keep.
And just know, it’s a little Happy Christmas (and a happy right that moment) from us to you.
P.S. In case you don’t find one, above is a gif of how we make them but it might be easier to follow some actual instructions of course.
P.P.S. If you do find one, I hope it makes you smile!