I really do miss the doorstep salesman

A general view of copies of the Encyclopaedia Britannica. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday February 3, 2010. One of the world's most trusted references was busy double- checking its facts on Ireland tonight after giving a grossly inaccurate account of the country's civil war. A concise version of Encyclopaedia Britannica, first published seven years ago, wrongly described the 1922 conflict over partition as a war between Catholics in the south and Protestants in the north. See PA story IRISH Britannica. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire B20081061265216332A
A general view of copies of the Encyclopaedia Britannica. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday February 3, 2010. One of the world's most trusted references was busy double- checking its facts on Ireland tonight after giving a grossly inaccurate account of the country's civil war. A concise version of Encyclopaedia Britannica, first published seven years ago, wrongly described the 1922 conflict over partition as a war between Catholics in the south and Protestants in the north. See PA story IRISH Britannica. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire B20081061265216332A

WARD’S WORLD By John Ward

Putting the rubbish bags out recently with household waste in black bag, recycling in green sack and nuclear isotope waste in the yellow one with the pretty black propeller design by the side of the road I heard the squeal of brakes and behold a large white van had come to rest before my very eyes.

He was lost and so I pointed yonder in the not too far off distance to the most glorious and wonderful A17 as mentioned on a lot of traffic warnings on the radio, so famous in its own right plus it accepts traffic from both directions. Then was the Master Stroke as used by the Derek and Rodney Trotter School of Salesmanship – or not.

Was I in the market for a new carpet as he had some ‘lovely carpet in the back that were surplus to the job he had been on and I could – joy of great joys – have one at a much reduced price’ nudge, nudge, wink etc and despite there was nothing on the goggle-box that was remotely entertaining at that time and he could fill that vacant gap, I declined his 
offer as I had no loose change on me.

In the past one of my then neighbours bought a ‘cheap carpet’ in much the same way allegedly from commercial contractors who were laying carpet in ‘an office block down the road’ (unspecified) and although he brought it all rolled up and tidy with a very nice line in secure banding that did not allow him to unroll it in the road which was the showroom so to speak, so once we unrolled it to fit and despite manoeuvring the furniture about in his dining room, there was no way we could cover the portion that spelt out ‘Welc me to The Roy l Hotel’ in red letters stamped upon it and you like to think the Royal Hotel did get kitted up eventually.

What I miss these days is door to door salesmen that were about in the last century that provided so much entertainment from tea sets to vacuum cleaners to canteens of cutlery (‘made in Sheffield of course Modom, via their Hong Kong workshops’) on offer to my favourite, the encyclopaedia salesman. Before the likes of looking on the internet to find things out like when was the last time you brushed your teeth via the popular social media sites, there were rather time consuming methods and encyclopaedias was one of them to gain that elusive knowledge thingy.

One sales exponent arrived on our doorstep and mum answered as he fanned out one volume to her of a possible set of 48 – they only carried one due to the weight etc – and if you shelled out more than £200 plus for the set you got a ‘free’ bookcase to store them on or if you liked to move them about a bit, a free truss. This bod pointed to one page at random and asked mum if she wanted to know the exact length, say, of the River Ganges. It was there but she stopped him and said he really needed to speak to Ken, two doors down with the blue front door, who worked on the railways but went fishing at the weekends as he would be interested in the river side of things to wit the man slowly went away with a glazed look in his eyes.

I still think mum would have had a bright future in the Diplomatic Service.