It is only two and a half weeks until “The Day”, and I believe that most if not all of us have been very busy on the ‘leafleting front’, with tales and anecdotes to share.

So here are my adventures, first and foremost those to do with the one object we all have encountered: the letterbox!

I’ve come across some very beautiful Victorian ones, usually very narrow, with lovely decorations. Some have door knockers attached, even with the little notice “knock” underneath. The flaps open nicely, albeit there are some which haven’t seen a drop of WD40 in decades! Sadly, the Victorian housewives would die of shame, since most of those lovely brass fittings aren’t polished and shining as would’ve been the standard 150 years ago.

Then there are the functional ones: huge openings, just right to receive most modern small parcels and jiffy bags. Can we say they’re a bit boring? Yes we can!

At least all these letterboxes allow one to easily and quickly stick the leaflet in.

But then there are the finger traps, the modern, shiny concoctions meant to keep the warmth in the house, meant to prevent burglars from reaching the inside door handles.

How I loathe them!

One needs four hands to operate them: one to rise the flap, which should be regarded as weight training exercise because they are so stiff; one to keep that flap open, one to negotiate the brushes – top and bottom! – inside, and another to push the inside flap to get that leaflet in.

They eat fingers, and after a round of man- and woman-handling them, one’s hands look as if one’s been doing battle with a pride of cats.

The absolutely worst of those shiny ones are the ones placed about four inches from the ground. Whoever came up with that idea ought to be made to deliver 1000 leaflets through such fittings only!

But there are more hazards for the unwary: the paths to the doors!

The variety of individual arrangements of steps, lintels, kerbs and loose tiles before one gets to the door proper is astonishing. They all seem to be designed to trip visitors up, and not one is alike, so one has to keep one’s eyes firmly fixed on the ground else one will land flat on one’s face.

The most beautiful are also the most hazardous: brass sheetings on the entrance step: one might as well step on an ice sheet …

Then there are the cast iron gates: if one’s sussed how to open one that doesn’t mean the other one will open that way as well! Some need proper mechanical studies before one can prise them open.

The front gardens show immediately if the house is occupied by one family (only one leaflet needed!) or if it’s in multiple occupation (many leaflets needed). Those which have flowers and pots and are lovingly tended are one-family-homes, and if one’s lucky one gets to chat to whoever is working the front garden just now.

Those which look a bit like a rubbish tip are infallibly houses which have been turned into flats. The front gardens of those which have been turned into offices are ‘maintenance-free’: pebbles or slate chippings, with one or two giant planters with dwarf conifers, which are also used as outdoor ashtrays.

But the greatest hazard, without doubt, are the resident dogs!

They defend their home to the death, with barks which could wake the dead, the smaller the dogs the louder the bark.

I’ve come across one house displaying the notice “chien lunatique”: loony dog – and yep, that one kept yapping for a long time. Another resident dog sounded like an Alsatian: deep and menacing.

Generally, the dogs start to bark as soon as one is through the front gate.

There was one which was easily the most scary. That was a dog which lurked in the hallway, dead quiet, but as soon as I lifted the letterbox flap, he jumped, banging against the door as if he’d break through it, barking, and trying to eat my fingers.

Crikey – that gave even me a scare!

I hardly saw any ‘enemy’ posters in this tribally Labour constituency, but the three I did see were displayed in the poshest area, and the poshest houses therein. On the other hand, the working men I encountered, the builders and decorators, were happy to take a leaflet. Make of that what you will …

Now all that us foot soldiers need for the final stretch is more of the nice and dry weather!


Photo by chrisinplymouth

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