I had hoped to make a bit of a start on the Rasputin play today, but there were too many bits of admin to get through, before I headed into town to discuss offensive comedy with Bridget Christie and Miranda Sawyer in a nineteenth century chapel.
As well as sorting out this quarter's tax receipts I had to fill in a convoluted form for my visa to visit Russia next month. Once I had done it and printed up bank statements to prove I had enough money for my four night stay and gone to the post office (and then the bank to pay in charity money) it was about four o clock and I was trying to work out if I had time to go to the gym. The doorbell rang and I used my handy answerphone handset to see who was there. "I know you're very busy and you probably don't want to be bothered by people selling stuff at your door..." said a slightly desperate voice. He was entirely correct though. I was very busy and I don't buy things from people calling at my house. I don't think it's an appropriate way to do business, even if the person involved might be involved in some charity or be claiming to be. It's intrusive to come to someone's home and too often the person is either explicitly conning you or at least playing on the vulnerability of kind-hearted or frightened old people. But if you're going to take this approach you will have to accept you're going to have a lot of doors slammed in your face.
I stopped the man's spiel and told him I was indeed very busy and that I would save him some time as I never buy from door to door salesmen. I was abrupt, but polite and then hung up the phone. I could hear the man furiously swearing outside and then he put his finger on my buzzer and held it there. Now he had clearly crossed a line. He was frustrated and I guessed possibly had some issues of his own, but this had now turned from mild intimidation to full-on unpleasantness and I was angry. Someone cold-calling you on the phone does not know where you live, but I was now having to deal with a slightly aggressive stranger who not only knew my address but was standing outside. The middle-class guilt that he was playing on (and demonstrated to great effect in a recent episode of "Inside No 9") kicked in, but I also didn't like that he was creating a menacing atmosphere for me and my wife. I picked up the phone and told him that his behaviour was unreasonable and that if he didn't leave immediately I would call the police. He swore and told me not to and said that he just wanted to tell me about what he was selling and why. And whilst his motivations might have been honest and noble that did not give him the right to my time. I was stressed enough as it was and now worried about him chucking a brick through my window or waiting outside to punch me for my lack of charity. I hung up again. He lurked outside the door for a while, muttering to himself. I felt bad about my own behaviour but also concerned. My wife was about to head out of the house and I wanted to go for a run. Instead I realised I didn't have time to do everything I wanted and went to my office to do more admin. On the desk I discovered the passport that I thought I had just sent off by special delivery. I had inadvertently enclosed my old one. So I hadn't even completed my chores.
The man came back to apologise for what he'd done about ten minutes later, which I appreciated (though I was still cross with him). I felt a bit ashamed and embarrassed by my cushy life compared to whatever was going on in his. And he knew he had behaved inappropriately and scared us so he felt ashamed too. Should I have invited him in and given him some money or a cup of tea? Probably not, as it would be wrong to reward this approach. But I think we both left the encounter feeling abd about ourselves.
Episode 2 of series 5 of RHLSTP is now up for those of you prepared to pay for your video and/or audio. It's with the wonderful Jenny Eclair. There will be 12 podcasts in this series so you're paying just over a quid each for the video and audio pass and only 50p for the audio if you buy the pass. The audio is the same as the free audio, but if you're prepared to pay that small amount it will really help us keep this project going. Ta!
Delighted to say that after less than a week online episode 1 of RHMOL has had over 5000 views (if you add up vimeo and youtube views) and nearly 500 people have subscribed to the longer version (there will be 6 episodes in total for your £15 - for tour length stand up shows). If you can't pay or won't pay then please spread the links and the word and enjoy the free versions (also available as audio podcasts).