'I'm not with Stupid'

THIS LIFE Public relations consultant Andy Green talks to Grant Woodward about his one-man campaign

ANDY Green is staging a one-week tour around Britain visiting organisations which suffer from stupidity to mark the second Stupid Aid Week, which runs until September 5.

He launched his one-man campaign in a bid to help others fight what he believes to be increasing examples of stupidity in the world caused by the pressures of modern life.

The Stupid Aid Tour will see him place commemorative plaques at various sites including the controversial Millennium Footbridge in London and West Yorkshire Police's emergency call centre in Wakefield, which receives time-wasting nuisance calls.

He has also produced a new survival guide called Overcome Stupidity in the World Around You and is creating a new not-for-profit social enterprise, the Flexible Thinking Forum, to promote creative thinking skills.

The 50-year-old was born in London but now works in Wakefield, commuting there from his family home in Barry Island, Wales.

He is married with two grown-up daughters.

The one thing I couldn't live without is optimism. Although I do believe in 'pit stop pessimism' where you need to have a reality check but, like a Formula 1 car in the pit stop, you spend as little time there as possible.

My first job was getting paid to pull street barrows in a market in London's East End when I was 11. I got paid 50p to help the traders put their stalls away.

The things I'm most proud of in life are my two daughters, Charlotte and Elizabeth. Workwise, it's the next task.

I launched Stupid Aid Week after a trip to a restaurant in Wakefield just over a year ago.

I asked for a slice of lemon in my water and was told I couldn't have one because it would involve using a knife and that would mean carrying out a risk assessment.

It struck me that this was symptomatic of the world at large and I decided I should try to do something about it.

I teach all over the world about creativity, which I define as flexible thinking.

Stupidity is not about low intelligence, it's about inflexible thinking without asking questions.

Whether it's being told 'the computer says 'No', facing an unhelpful call centre hiding behind 'data protection', or just inflexible 'jobsworths'.

I'm trying to get people to stand up for themselves more and not be fobbed off.

To relax I watch football. I save all my pessimism in life for when I watch my beloved West Ham play. Our club motto is 'You lose some, you draw some.' I also do Sumo Squash.

The best thing about Yorkshire is the fact that you can never be big-headed here. Someone will always put you straight.

I learned a lot growing up. I was one of five boys, my younger brother was autistic, and I grew up with a realisation that there was always someone worse off than me. As I couldn't beat my elder brothers up I also learned to use my gob to get myself out of trouble.

As a public relations consultant the best piece of advice I've ever received is that you can only help people get the reputation they deserve. As a human being it would be to treat people as they would like to be treated.

The last time I cried was when I read the news about young Sophie Lancaster, the young Goth who was kicked to death because of the way she dressed. It touched a nerve in terms of being who you are, and being free to express who you are.

My philosophy on life is that life is too short. It's important to make the most of every day and to avoid psychotoxic people – and Chelsea fans.

The person living or dead I would you most like to meet is William Shakespeare. I would ask how many of his works did he really write, and how close to his original work are the versions we enjoy today?

And of course, I would love to meet the great Bobby Moore, just to show suitable deference.

And me dear old Mum and Dad, just to say the things that should have been said when they were alive.

I don't remember too much about my first kiss but Barbara from Bermondsey (an area of south London) seems to stick in my mind!

My favourite joke is one told by the late, great Tommy Cooper. Two cannibals are eating a clown, and one says to the other: "Does this taste funny?"

l Overcome Stupidity in the World Around You, the Stupid Aid survival guide, is published by Tangent publishing and costs 7.

Favourite things...

TV programme: The Sopranos

Actor/actress: Jenny Agutter, for non-thespian reasons.

Holiday: I travel extensively through my work, so would just love to be at home and switch off.

Food: Curry

Star sign: Leo

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