Enough of this outdated doorstep good manners

By Charlotte Hofton

Friday, February 28, 2014


Enough of this outdated doorstep good manners


Fed up with strangers on your doorstep, selling you something you don’t want or tricking you into giving them your life savings in return for a cowboy roofing job?

It’s possible you have been using the wrong techniques with these pests. Maybe you have dealt with them, politely but firmly, by saying "No, thank you very much" and shutting the door?

Oh, goodness me, that won’t do at all. You’re just so sweetly old-fashioned, aren’t you? Maybe your parents taught you to treat everyone with respect, certainly in the first instance.

And unless these people actually force their way into your house or make threats, you prefer just to give them a brief but courteous refusal and close your door.

Really, it would be funny if it weren’t so tragic. You actually say "No, thank you"? Thank you!

Honestly, where did you go to school? Some place where they taught etiquette? Oh, stop it. My sides are splitting.

Well, times have changed and fortunately, the IW Council and Hampshire Constabulary are on hand to show us how to treat these brutes who force their way on to our streets.

They have issued a sticker to put on your door or window and which will soon sort out this problem.

The sticker is in fierce black-and-yellow, is headed "WARNING" and bears the logos of both the council and the constabulary. This satisfactorily sets the tone.

As Wordsworth said so rightly: "Shades of the prison-house begin to close" — and thus it will be with these criminals.

No, don’t start squeaking and protesting they were only trying to sell you cheaper gas and electricity.

They’re criminals, or they certainly will be if they don’t do what the sticker says.

"We do not deal with uninvited traders," declares the sticker. Excellent. None of your "No, thank you" nonsense.

I like the "We" bit, too. Suggests there’s an army of Daily Mail readers living in the property, stoutly maintaining their right to defend the home that is their castle.

"Please leave and do not return." Yes, that’s good, too, though you could always ink out the "Please" if you think it’s a bit namby-pamby.

Then comes the best bit. "Failure to do so is a criminal offence."

Now, isn’t that brilliant? That’s got them on the run all right.

What do you mean, you don’t think it is actually a criminal offence? You want to know exactly what it means? Are they not allowed to come back to the whole street or just the bit of pavement outside the door, or does it mean a garden path, which might constitute trespass but is a highly nebulous area?

Well, I don’t know, either, but let’s send them to prison, anyway.

So I hope you’ll see the error of your ways. The days of not being rude just for the sake of it are over.

Still, I used to be like you. Only last week, I answered a knock on my door to a charming young girl. She said she hoped she wasn’t bothering me but she was an agent for a cosmetic firm and wondered whether I might be interested in any of her products?

I thanked her (imagine!), said I was sorry I wasn’t interested at that time (positively insane courtesy) and wished her good luck (sheer folly on my part).

Thanks to the sticker, I now realise this girl was not, as I supposed, a bright spark who had the enterprise and energy to try to create some income instead of looking to the state for handouts. She was an uninvited trader and thus the worst sort of person.

She left without protest but should she dare return to my area, I shall summon the police immediately.

Now, go and put your manners in the dustbin and forget about being polite when it isn’t necessary to be rude.

This sticker will make you rude at all times and that’s the way the police and council like it.

What’s that? Your father always said you should remember the words of the politician who said, "Sir, I will treat you like a gentleman, not because you are one, but because I am one"?

Obviously, your father never had to deal with Jehovah’s Witnesses.

Yes, of course they’re uninvited traders.

They’re trading in God. String ’em up.

We’re down to cabbage water

Time once more to whisk the batter in honour of Pancake Day next Tuesday. Its proper name is of course Shrove Tuesday, the day when households traditionally used up their eggs and milk before the Lenten fast, which begins on Ash Wednesday.

Less well known is Collop Monday, which falls on the eve of Shrove Tuesday and is the day when slices, or collops, of bacon are used up before Lent.

After cooking the collops, the leftover fat is saved to make Tuesday’s pancakes.

Very neat. So that’s the meals sorted out for the next six weeks.

Collops Monday, pancakes Tuesday and, after that, not much beyond cold cabbage water and an extra dribble of gruel on Sundays.


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