August 30th, 2013


Calling A Halt

The moles keep digging up my mother's lawn. I've been removing the evidence and carrying it off in buckets- but not any more. Spadework hurts my back and if my back goes- as it's been known to do- I'll not be able to carry on running things down here on the farm.

Hark, Hark, The Dogs Do Bark...

It was early evening. The front doorbell rang. My mother's doorbell- calibrated to the needs of a person who is very deaf- goes off like a fire alarm. We keep the front door locked and the key hidden so it was easier for me to go round by the back door and confront the caller in the garden.  It  turned out to be  a long, floppy-looking young man. He thrust a laminated card at me and told me he suffered from Tourettes and was trying to earn an honest living selling small items door to door. I said I wasn't interested. When he persisted I turned my back and went back inside.

He walked away complaining and threatening to "get his own back". (I guess he really did have Tourettes).

Afterwards I felt guilty. I always do. That's the whole point of this particular sales strategy. The punter says "no" and feels like a heel or "yes" and feels exploited. It's not much of a choice.

This morning I've been doing research. There's a company that more or less has the door-to-door business sewn up. They used to be called Cobra and now they're called AppCo. They're legit. Unfortunately. Charities and corporations hire them to sell everything from dusters to contracts with power companies.  My lad may not have been working for them but odds are he was. You can find testimonies online about their business practices and the experience of working for them- none of it  particularly edifying. Common practice is to bus groups of salespeople to areas (this guy must have come with wheels because walking along the roads round here is suicidal) and let them loose for the evening. I didn't let my guy get as far as unpacking his wares but I know- from past experience- he'd be charging ridiculous prices. The sales-people get hooked in with promises of money and advancement but few of them stick it for long because it's unpleasant work (only a socioopath could enjoy it) and poorly rewarded. (Our friend Peter was recruited once and lasted a day). The odd one or two get to climb the ladder and run their own teams.

Ailz says it's one up from selling the Big Issue. I think it's one down. It's more highly pressurized (for everyone concerned.) Besides which the Big Issue is a halfway decent magazine. 

An Historic Vote

Cameron watered down his motion on bombing Syria but lost anyway. This is the first time since the 18th century that a British Government has lost a vote on a question of war and peace. Polly Toynbee in the Guardian says it marks the end of our belief in ourselves as an imperial nation. I think she's right.

Bang, Bang, Bang!

I walked towards the sound of the guns and found- to my relief- that it wasn't some loony in the back field blasting away at bunnies but a bunch of middle-aged blokes having a clay-pigeon shoot.

So much for rural peace and quiet.

A lot of money was going up in smoke. They'd been at it all afternoon.

Ailz asked my mother if she'd ever learned to shoot and she said she'd been taught by the Home Guard.