In this period of incessant campaigning I sometimes feel like a leafleting version of the Flying Dutchman. Doomed to shove leaflets through letter boxes on endless winding suburban streets in rain and wind until redeemed by the election of a Labour government of a new and challenging kind.
Yesterday was the sort of drenching and dribbling day that turn leaflets into papier-mache. The sort of extreme weather that was once rare but now commonplace. Flower boxes carefully arranged on garden walls had been blown onto their sides. Some people had arranged their recycle and rubbish bins in the street with two upended on either side to keep the third upright and all of them from being blown onto the road. Small adaptations hinting at bigger threats.
This morning – on one of those bright, calm sunlit days that make Autumn contemplative – the crowns of the trees lining the streets looked like monks tonsures; the storm having scalped them of their top leaves, while those lower down were sheltered by the terraced housing and remained in glorious golden splendor.
Odd sights on the doorstep.
Someone had a Xmas decoration bell hanging by their letterbox. Perhaps they are getting it up early, perhaps they just leave it up all year to save the bother, perhaps they just like it, perhaps they are celebrating Diwali and its all they have.
In another garden, rather cluttered, by the gate, a decapitated Buddha statue sits like a shock – giving off the opposite vibe from its calm and peaceful intention. The head lies by its feet.
A lot of people have “No Junk Mail” signs. I always presume that these do not apply – or should not apply – to political leaflets; the written word being the lifeblood of an informed democracy – and have been known to argue with people – who have come out to complain and put them on the same level as an unrequested invitation to take up a credit card or buy a pizza – that people died for their right to be offended. That said, cold calls are disturbing for anyone in search of a quiet life.
The epidemic of cold calls and junk mail of recent years is producing a defensive reaction that is almost agoraphobic – a turning inwards into private space that comes across as more socially hostile than it is probably intended but can sometimes be edgily self righteous – “don’t bother me in my bubble.” The logical conclusion of these signs was the flat that had effectively nailed its letterbox shut. How the posties deal with that one I don’t know.