More Leafleting.

Out and about in Armley shoving leaflets through your letterbox.

“What the fuck are you are you doing?”

I’d just thrust a leaflet through a wonky letterbox, noticing too late a large, dingy, yellow sponge – the type you find in B&Q intended for washing cars – was jammed in the hole where the draught excluder ought to have been.

I hadn’t expected that. Leafleting training had not covered this eventuality. A sponge in a letterbox is the stuff of surrealist poetry, not the sort of thing you normally encounter on a dismal, dank Monday morning in Armley.

As the letterbox clattered shut the yellow sponge fell to the floor silently, closely followed by the leaflet.

I felt bad for dislodging the improvised wind-chill inhibitor. There was no way I could put my mistake right, however. I wasn’t going to let myself into a stranger’s house, retrieve the fallen object, and surreptitiously replace it as if nothing had happened. And it wasn’t as if any damage had been done.

I backed away from the door and started toward the gate, already reaching for my next leaflet.

A window creaked open behind me and a man’s voice brayed,

“Who the fuck do you think you are!”

Something in his tone of voice made me doubt it was a genuine plea for enlightenment concerning my personhood.

“Thank you for asking. That’s a good question, one I have often pondered, and a subject on which I have a tremendous amount of gripping material,” is what I ought to have said.

Instead I replied, “Er, hmm, well, I’m erm… I’m just here, leafleting… These. Leaflets?”

I fished in my bag and pulled out a couple of newsletters I’d been delivering for our Green candidate in the upcoming local election. I pressed one sheet flat against the windowpane so the irate householder could take a good look.

“Whatever you’re selling, don’t want it. Says on’t door, No Junk Mail!”

“I’m not trying to sell anything,” I said, in my best impersonation of jolly bonhomie, “it’s just a newsletter… Information… About the council election. For one of the candidates. The Green…”

“Stick your bloody leaflet,” he retorted, “just guzz right in’t bin.”

“Okay, but it’s just about the election. Information about one of the local people standing. Why you might want to consider voting for her. Lou’s…”

“Fuck off!” he quipped.

He seemed as capable of calm political discussion as I am of a double back-flip, on ice. Which made me estimate my chances of getting my point across as approaching zero.

The window slammed shut. My interlocutor disappeared behind the flick of a nylon net. Then there was a fumbling and scraping behind the front door as a crumpled leaflet was ejected back into the street followed by what I interpreted as the sound of sponge rammed hard and deep into the waiting gap behind the letterbox flap.

I took that as a cue that our conversation was over.

“I guess we can’t depend on your vote on the second of May then?” I said, employing my internal voice as I didn’t see the point of antagonising the fellow any further.

I didn’t wait for an answer. I was already halfway up the garden path of his next door neighbour reminding myself to check the letterbox for inexplicable obstructions; a wig, a rolled up Confederate flag, Volume M to P of the 1912 Encyclopedia Britannica. Nothing would surprise me now.

Armley is never predictable.