Everyone knows when you say something on social media it’s legally binding right? Well apart from Leyton Orient fan Matt Simpson, who narrowly avoided tattooing his own face by pledging to donate £20 to Prostate Cancer UK every time the mighty O’s kept a clean sheet last season. He describes how he defied the Tweeting masses, saved face and raised money for a great cause.
"Would you be up for getting your face tattooed at half-time during a match at Brisbane Road, and it being filmed by a TV crew?"
My answer was, well, no not really. But this was a situation of my own making.
It was July 2015, and a couple of hours earlier, rumours had begun to circulate online that Leyton Orient were about to announce the signing of goalkeeper Alex Cisak.
This was good news: the Aussie had been at the club on loan the previous season and had impressed. I was excited, so I sent the following tweet: 'If Alex Cisak is our 4th signing today I’m going to tattoo a likeness of his face onto mine.'
Alex Cisak (not Matt's face)
Obviously – or at least obviously to me – I was speaking figuratively. I didn’t think much more of it.
About an hour later my phone suddenly exploded. My Twitter notifications were scrolling so fast I couldn’t keep up with them. This must be what’s it’s like to be Kim Kardashian after posting a naked selfie, or Stephen Fry stuck in a lift.
What had happened was this: the BBC had got wind of my rash claim and – using licence payers’ money – written a story about it on the BBC Sport website, tweeting the link out to their five million followers.
The majority of the countless responses I was getting were along the lines of, 'Unlucky mate, you’ve said it now, you have to do it' – almost as if anything you say on Twitter is legally binding.
How do you even tattoo the likeness of someone’s face onto your own face? Is that even possible?
A tattoo parlour got in touch, a TV crew, a radio station. Was I really going to do it? Erm, no – I mean, how do you even tattoo the likeness of someone’s face onto your own face? Is that even possible?
Anyway, since things were clearly spiralling out of control, I needed to find a way to – quite literally – save face. That’s where Prostate Cancer UK came in. I proposed that instead of butchering my own face, I’d donate £20 to the charity every time Alex Cisak kept a clean sheet in the 2015/16 season.
Cisak is a great keeper but, given the Orient defence, I figured this wouldn’t entirely bankrupt me. I set up this Just Giving page to do that and by the end of the season had donated £260 – a small price to pay for not disfiguring myself.
What have I learnt? That Twitter – let alone the BBC – take things very literally
And Alex himself has been a great sport about it. He says: "As soon as I saw the post for the first time I started laughing and I thought he would regret it. But I was happy for a compromise for such a good cause and I’m sure he is too!"
What have I learnt? That Twitter – let alone the BBC – take things very literally. Thank god I didn’t tweet that I’d 'explode with joy' if Alex Cisak signed, otherwise I suspect I’d have been petitioned to detonate myself…
You don’t need to tattoo your face or detonate yourself when you join the fight against prostate cancer. (We’re not that mean.)
But what if you pledge to donate every time something happens – like when your team wins, your favourite player scores, or your chairman decides to sell the club and appoint Mr Blobby as your new manager. That would be great. And it will all help stop prostate cancer being a killer.