Wilkinson clearly loves to travel. Indeed, many photos have been uploaded to her Facebook page showing her in locations as far and wide as Italy, Australia, Nepal and Africa, as well as all across the United States, from San Francisco, to Las Vegas, Texas, Tennessee and the Caribbean.
In fact, the 28-year-old Englishwoman eventually settled in Charlotte, North Carolina, where she works as a content marketing manager for American City Business Journals. It was while she was traveling in China, however, that Wilkinson met her friend, Scotsman Drew McEwan.
In June 2018, however, Wilkinson had a message for McEwan, and it was one she could only deliver in person. More than that, it had to be a surprise. So for six months, with the help of McEwan’s family, she planned a secret trip to see the 31-year-old Scotsman, with the visit ending in an astonishing twist.
The perfect opportunity arose when McEwan’s sister began to organize her daughter’s christening. Knowing what Wilkinson wanted to do, she made arrangements to accommodate the elaborate surprise for Drew. After all, there can’t be a much more of a momentous event than a personal family gathering, right?
So McEwan’s family assembled for his niece’s christening on the edge of the picturesque Loch Lomond in Scotland. As they all congregated for photos after the ceremony, the photographer spotted a gardener in the back of the shot. And, of course, such personal pictures were no place for an interloper.
The photographer, who was privy to Wilkinson’s surprise, sent McEwan to ask the gardener if she would mind moving so the shoot could continue. But as the gardener stood up to confront McEwan, she had a couple choice words for him. You see, not everything was as it appeared.
As the gardener stood up and turned to McEwan, she looked him square in the eyes. As she did so, McEwan’s jaw hit the floor; he hadn’t been prepared for what stood in front of him. The gardener tapped him on the shoulder and said two simple words that completely astounded him. She said, “You’re it.”
The “gardener” was in fact Wilkinson in disguise. She had flown in that morning from her home in North Carolina to deliver the message in person. In fact, it was all part of an elaborate game of tag that the pair had been playing with eight other friends since they had first met in China four years ago.
As McEwan explained to the Daily Record in June 2018, “My brother and sister had been planning it for months with Georgina behind my back. They even picked her up at the airport that morning. I’ve never felt so betrayed by my own flesh and blood,” he added, jokingly.
The rules of the game stipulate that in order to be “it,” the recipient must be physically touched. And in the tag-and-run nature of the contest, Wilkinson wasn’t even permitted to stick around for coffee and a catch-up. She had traveled 4,000 miles just to make her play in the ongoing game.
As Wilkinson explained to BBC’s Newsbeat in June 2018, “I was just making sure he didn’t run away – because if I hadn’t touched him, it wouldn’t count towards the game.” In fact, it was Wilkinson herself who did the running – she had a flight home to America to catch later that same day.
“I was in shock that she’d put so much effort into it,” a stunned McEwan admitted to the Daily Record. “Flying over from America and back in one day is unbelievable. She had to make sure she was home in plenty of time for work on Monday. It’s my turn to tag one of the group now.”
But Wilkinson’s move was just the latest play in this long-running and increasingly elaborate game. She earned the mantle of “it” from Charlotte Bourne, who had flown to North Carolina and somehow coaxed Wilkinson to a ghost museum. There, Bourne jumped out from behind an exhibit while dressed as a statue.
The group of friends were inspired to start the game when they saw an article in the Wall Street Journal about a gang who had kept up a similar contest that has lasted nearly 30 years. It was the same story that was the inspiration for the recent Hollywood movie, also named Tag.
The group’s moves turn into elaborate pranks as a simple matter of geography. As another of the friends, Adam-Lucas Pettit, explained to Newsbeat, “It’s hard to get everyone together because we live across the world, so this is a way to ensure we’ll always be in touch.”
As it happens, it was Pettit’s move when he surprised Faye Simonds that was Wilkinson’s favorite. At Christmas 2017 he drove three hours to Milton Keynes in the U.K., where he’d set up a large box covered in Christmas wrapping at her parents’ house. It was a prank that her folks were in on.
As Pettit recalled, “Her dad pretended he was taking a photo of Faye in front of the box, and as he counted down to the photo, I jumped out.” He had been laying in wait for an hour while the family took tea. “Then I had to drive straight back to my house in Lincoln. I couldn’t even stay around because of the rules of the game!”
So now the pressure is on McEwan to not only make the next move, but make it bigger than the last. Whether he will surprise one of their friends in Australia, the U.S. or Vietnam, he’s currently not giving anything away. All we know is that there will be a video of the prank when the time comes.
Wilkinson thanked McEwan’s sister for “allowing me to ruin a cherished family occasion,” and “offering up her daughter’s baptism in the name of fun.” So when will the fun end in this elaborate game of tag? Wilkinson’s guess is never. As she explained to Inside Edition in July 2018, “Nobody is going to be the person to put a stop to it and be the killjoy. So I think we’re in it for life.”