I just heard a BBC Radio 4 production of the Simon Gray comedy, “Otherwise Engaged”, featuring a man whose ambition to spend the afternoon listening to Wagner’s Parsifal while he has the house to himself is frustrated by a stream of unexpected visitors. My own experience is much more banal, nevertheless it inspired me to share my list of recent callers to my own front door.
- Two ladies from the Moonies wanted to leave me a copy of Sun Myung Moon’s book and pick it up next week: No thankyou.
- A man collecting for children with cerebral palsy wanted £2 for a keyring with a globe attached: There you go.
- A woman wanted to know if I had any knives that needed sharpening: No thanks.
- James Bond – he’s our councillor. It always amuses me to say “I’ve been expecting you, Mr Bond,” so it’s fortunate he is so patient.
- A young man with apparently home-made ID wondered if I was interested in buying any household products? No thanks.
- A young woman explained that her car, which was blocking my driveway, had run out of petrol and the battery on her mobile phone was dead. Could she please use my phone to call her dad? Go ahead.
- An overweight schoolboy from along the road and his mate, with bucket of water and sponge, wanted to know if they could clean my car. No thanks.
- A police community support officer bringing smart water.
- A driver attempting to deliver a hot water tank to my neighbour, who was out. It was huge.
- A dishevelled man with florid cheeks and tangled hair told me my gutters needed cleaning. I explained that I had recently done it myself. Goodbye.
- A French student wanted to show me his paintings and perhaps sell me some: Tres bon, mais non, merci.
- A smart young couple collecting for Battersea Dog’s Home: There you go.
- A man selling ‘surplus carpet from an office contract’. No thanks.
- My next door neighbour came to tell me a squirrel has eaten its way into my roof space. Again. Thanks, Paul.
This is all in addition to the routine visitors, such as the postman, Jehovah’s witnesses, the man who wants to tarmac the driveway, meter readers, double-glazing salesmen, tree-surgeons, gardeners, window cleaners, policemen seeking witnesses to vandalism and fly-tipping and the nice ladies who would like to talk to me about Jesus.
These weren’t all on the same day, but there are enough to make me glad I don’t work nights and sleep days.