Well, it’s all been rather quiet here on the blogsite lately, what with Easter, The Wedding and now the Elections! It has not been at all quiet out here in the shires, where we have four ballots tomorrow: Voting Reform, Borough Council and Parish Council elections and a County Council by-election. No wonder some people seem a little dazed by it all.
In the past three weeks I have delivered hundreds of leaflets and knocked on hundreds of doors. Anyone who has been a dedicated deliverer of leaflets – or a postman – will tell you about grazed knuckles and broken finger nails, for the designers of domestic letter-boxes hardly seem to have tested their products. The worst position for a letter-box is probably near ground level . There is a surprising quantity of these. Delivery usually necessitates lowering everything one is carrying to the ground, an undignified crouch to stuff the by now squashed piece of paper through the aperture, straighten up and gather up one’s possessions with as much dignity as possible, which is very little. The worst type of letter-box is undoubtely the sort with a spring flap designed to snick the ends off fingers. They can draw blood. I had a painful encounter with one the other day which had a spring flap on each side. More and more letter boxes have little draught-excluding brushes which must be a curse for postmen. A thickish envelope may slide through, but something as flimsy as the average leaflet has to be carefully slid through, so the fingers pass through the aperture along with the paper.
This is where DOGS come into the picture. Well, they always were in the picture. Dogs do not like things that come at them unexpectedly and this includes anything appearing through the front door. Especially hands. All leaflet deliverers, and probably postmen too, have horror stories which go something like this: “I could hear the dog on the inside, barking and growling and jumping at the door. I tried to stuff the paper through as fast as I could and I felt its hot breath/whiskers/teeth or all three. This is made worse by the draught-excluding brushes which make it difficult to withdraw the hand rapidly. You get the picture.
Cats, though, are different. I have met some delightful cats on my rounds this time. Many are pleased to pass the time of day, some expect one to let them in the house if no-one is in [don’t your owners know about catflaps?] and only a few make off in the opposite direction. Occasionally one may decide to come along for the walk, which means doubling back to ensure pussy’s safe return. Only tonight a pair of pure white cats sat on a roof watching our small though lively band with aloof interest.
The people – yes, they are very different, from the friendly and so-welcome ‘Yes, we’re voting for you, you can count on it’ to the door slammed in my husband’s face, ‘We’re eating!’ [Lucky you, thought I!] Most people are polite, many are interesting, and there is endless capacity for the unexpected. There has been a lot of laughter.
There can be some unforeseen moments. I am not going to forget the gentleman I saw tonight who explained with the utmost kindness and courtesy that I could not possibly have known it – which was true – but his wife had passed away quite recently. Nor will I forget one young mother who was so concerned about her son’s education.
It is Election Day tomorrow – today as I write – when our local elections may be overshadowed by the historic referendum on voting reform. To be continued…