WEEKEND WEB: Don’t go knocking on Mother’s door
JOHN WARD gives us insight into the alternative dimension that is WARD’S WORLD
Despite the assorted stickers on the windows about ‘No canvassers’, we still get the chancers in life who still persist in pressing the doorbell but the usual procedure is thus: I open the door, I smile (loosely), quiver my eyebrows, don’t utter a word but smile more firmly this time as I have their eyeball focused on the tip of my index finger as I then turn slightly and point towards the sticker saying ‘No canvassers’.
The now usual refrain is: ‘Oh - so sorry - I didn’t mean to disturb you’ or the one at the bottom of the golden list of cherished reactions to this is: ‘Okay - up yours, mate!’ and the last time I heard that particular one, I shouted after him that ‘we sweep our own chimney’ - although another view to this is the poor education that these supposedly mature people are unable to read anything that affects their selling pitch.
I had a down-to-earth tutor in dealing with such people on these illustrious occasions.
Step forward my mum (of the people for the people), who was a power force when it came to dealing with the doorstep brigade, regardless of their selling pitch, that could range from: ‘If it costs money the old one is still working okay, thank you and good day’ to ‘Does your mother know you have sunk to this? I bet she thinks you’re still in borstal/jail/on remand (whichever fitted their age range, you understand) as she would be so ashamed to think you have to do this sort of thing - have you no pride?’ and would leave the poor soul in a state of shock at best as they wandered off with a ‘Mind you shut our gate properly as well!’ ringing in their ears.
One of her best moments was at the time of the local council elections, as one party was trying to get a new one in to ‘make the number up’ as if the Thingy party had ‘x’ number, then they too ought to equal but ultimately exceed that number, thus having the majority, of course, but in this case, a slight problem awaited them - Mum.
Picture if you will - it’s just gone six o’clock in the evening as the doorbell clangs and Mum goes to answer the front door but leaves the intermediate door open, so Dad and myself were able to hear/partly see the following proceedings.
‘Good evening to you dear lady’ was uttered by the Smiling One, as he went into his routine with: ‘I am sure you are only too aware that it is coming up to the local elections...’ followed closely by Mum saying: ‘It must be - it’s the only time we ever see your lot on the doorstep, but once every few years is enough anyway’ which the Smiling One (in the American colonies years ago, they were referred to as ‘snake oil salesmen’) took in his stride as he went into autopilot, still with bolt-on smile, as he played (he thought) his master card - introducing the latest off the production line, brand new and unhindered by lack of their own wherewithal to put on a brave face, one Sylvia Lac-Lustre.
Step forward Sylv with worried, twitching smile, as she, unlike the Smiling One, was a mere beginner and made some twittering noise about how wonderful it was to meet with Mum (Dad and myself raised our eyebrows in unison at hearing that - the ‘road of no return’ had just been entered) and after hearing the usual scripted waffle, Mum said she had heard it all before and in the intervening years, not a lot had happened from these assorted pledges, promises and ‘pie in the sky’ bits of ‘knitting with fog’ ideas/bribes of things to come, but never did.
No messing about there then.
Then the Smiling One pointed out that Sylv had done a lot of things - some without a camera being present as well - from feeding animals alone to helping on the ‘Pick-a-Straw’ stall at the local church fete, which Mum pointed out she knew about.
She had won a hand- painted plaster bust of Admiral Horatio Nelson (she really wanted to win the chrome-plated cruet) but found it was chipped when she got it home, but assumed the missing arm was nothing to do with the build quality, as she knew he had lost an arm in battle - but was not sure if it was the one with the wristwatch on or not.
However darkness was looming unbeknown to her minder, the Smiling One.
Mum asked where Sylv lived, as she could not remember seeing her about and she wouldn’t have, as Sylv lived about 11 miles away when it was finally revealed and as Mum pointed out, it was local elections, meaning l-o-c-a-l to her, or rather us as a community, so why get someone from wherever who had no idea of local concerns, wants or worries, who didn’t live and breathe in the area?
Might just as well rent somebody to appear or wander about now and again, much like Sylv.
Was it a case of nobody in Sylv’s own lair would vote for her or did they know something about her we didn’t or weren’t being told about, Mum wondered.
The Smiling One went into ‘save the day’ mode, pointing out Sylv had a good track record in people’s concerns - ‘so did Attila the Hun if the rumours were right’, replied Mum - plus Sylv was ‘well liked’ to which Mum said it was ‘early years yet’.
She pointed out she was not too happy about the curtains given to her some years before as they seemed to hang funny on one side of the front window, so you can’t go by appearances - but Sylv was, he said, ‘well meaning with her heart in the right place’ to which Mum asked ‘to see the x-rays before making a decision’.
She said that as far as she could work out, Sylv was another social ladder climber, adding perhaps another ‘thing’ to her record sheet of bits she had done or rather ‘involved in’, as a lot like her (ouch) were always mentioned but didn’t do much in real terms, unlike ‘Dependable Eric’ on the council, who lived and breathed local, plus everybody knew him as they respected him as he got things done rather than just smiling at folk, but mainly they had that thing called ‘trust’ in him, and unlike Sylv, he was there as required and not just every so many years before being seen or driving through on odd occasion or perhaps a diversion due to road works, so she would not be voting for her as she lacked substance.
Mum brought the encounter to a close by saying it was near ‘Crossroads’ time on the telly and their fiction was better written, to a degree, thus ‘Butch and Sundance’ slowly went on their shell-shocked way to other more welcoming punters, sorry, possible voters.
Mum asked if we had heard it and pointed out she thought she knew the ‘wrinkled raver’ from somewhere but was unsure where, unless she also had her eye on the chrome-plated cruet at the time.