Many of you will know of No_bob, the world’s most famous stuffed dolphin. But you may not know the story.
In 2000 i flew to the UK to earn some money teaching [due to an unfortunate police clearance incident i only ended up doing five days of actual teaching which was a high-or-low-light of itself and mostly looked after old people or University professors, who were about equally competent] so that i could join Youth With A Mission in Holland and go and save the world, or something.
At one point my friend Angela then-Flynn-now-Muller and i ended up in Brighton, walking down the pier and playing random fairground-type games at the random type fairground situated there. In the one game we had to throw balls into holes and the more points you got the quicker your wooden dolphin fake-swam across the fake-sea. i threw my balls the best [oh giggle away] and so my fake-dolphin won and i won this yellow-and-white stuffed dolphin that for the rest of my life random people would try to convince me had at one time been blue [seriously, happens all the time. no, he never was!].
[In a side note we played again and i won Angela a white seal with a blue sailor’s cap – yes, my ball-throwing skills are duly noted]
So we got my stuffed dolphin back to London and i figured i had to give him a name.
i have always loved this clip and the idea that ‘Kate’ is short for ‘um, Bob’ and as a result have always loved the name Bob, especially when pronounced by Rowan Atkinson in that way and so decided to call my dolphin ‘Bob’. And if i’d left it there it probably would have saved us all from a lot of confusion and correction.
However, i immediately thought to myself that ‘Bob’, great though it is, is quite a common name, and then i looked at my dolphin and realised that being made out of material meant that he was way more likely to sink than bob and thought it unfair to load such heavy irony on to him at such an early point in his relationship with me. And then it hit me. He wouldn’t bob.
And so No_bob was born, or named, or brought into moniker’d being.
And from the beginning, i was very particular that it was a capital N and two small b’s [you know like any other name starting with a capital and not having other capitals later on in the name] and that it was an Underscore and not a hyphen. And so what happens? Everyone gives him a hyphen and a capital b. No-Bob. It’s awful. Hashtag Stoppit! It just looks wrong.
CLAIM TO FAME
A number of celebs have had their fame enhanced by coming face to fur with No_bob and i sadly don’t have pictures of all of them, but i do have a few. When i was part of Holy Trinity Brompton Church in London i once chased Nicky Gumbel around a petrol station shop trying to introduce him to my most famous stuffed toy. [And if you haven’t yet realised why i so boldly claim that No_bob is the most famous stuffed dolphin in the world, think about it for a second – can you name one other stuffed dolphin in the world at all? Exactly. Therefore this one you know must be the most famous by virtue of you knowing him]
Among other celebs whose lives were improved by being introduced to No_bob were the following:
Stephan Pastis, creator of my favourite comic, Pearls Before Swine, was so amped to meet No_bob that he drew me one of my favourite characters from the strip, Croc, acknowledging No_bob’s amazingness. [He is sadly still refusing my generous offer of including No_bob once in one of his cartoon strips, but maybe if you tweeted him @stephanpastis or emailed him at email@example.com and gently requested that he include the world’s most famous stuffed dolphin, No_bob, he would reconsider]
No_bob has travelled to some quite stunning places all over the world courtesy of mostly myself, but also Christopher Campbell who took him to fancy Europe on a school tour:
And finally, No_bob has been on a whole host of adventures from International Habitat Builds with Jimmy Carter, to Argus Cycle Tours to Short term missions to Umtata to having his own t-shirt made [100 of them which are in countries all around the world] to Malaysia Youth conferences to a recent book launch and more – he had a companion called Bob for a while [who WAS blue and DID] and now he has a little tiny guy called Nobonobob who hangs around with him from time to time – he has been kidnapped and had songs sung about him and lost an eye all for the cause of Stuffed Dolphin World Domination and here are just a few pics of some of that:
Not bad for a stuffed toy dolphin who isn’t real, doesn’t have feelings. He just is. He has companioned me on may camps and speaks and helped me feel good “when people are looking at me like you’re looking at me now” especially when tbV hasn’t been nearby and he has helped create a bit of a vibe.
In closing, let me explain that my decision to mascot No_bob, especially linked to my speaking, was highly intentional. It was one aspect of my attempt to move the image of me as a speaker away from the ‘holy man of God’ that some people get the image of whenever a Christian speaker gets up on stage. Instead of’ holy man of God’ i became ‘weird haired guy with a dolphin’ ad the hope was that if people walked away challenged, encouraged, inspired etc that they would have to acknowledge it was more likely from God, than me. That was the intention and i think to a large extent it was successful. i did at the very least become ‘weird haired guy with a dolphin’.
Thankx No_bob for the journey. You may not be real [as in alive], but i certainly am.