IN RECENT years most of us will have come across the so-called ‘charity muggers’, who hang around high streets trying to get standing order donations from passers-by.
Like most people, I’ve perfected the art of avoiding eye contact, looking purposeful and acting profoundly deaf.
But if recent events are anything to go by, these tried and tested techniques will no longer work – because now people are being targeted in their own homes.
The first time it happened at Casa Smith was in mid-May, when two earnest-looking women appeared on the doorstep proffering clipboards, lanyards and extremely over-enthusiastic smiles.
“Hello!” they beamed.
At that point I realised I had been ambushed and no amount of looking busy was going to save me.
Their smiles fell away and they adopted ‘serious, moral mission’ expressions, designed to induce nothing but guilt.
“Do you have a grandma?” asked one of them.
The other jumped in: “Do you care if she’s looked after in her old age? Would you be heartbroken if she was lonely and poverty-stricken and did I mention lonely?”
The first one took up the baton again: “Do you agree we should help people who feel that way?”
She clicked her pen menacingly and added: “Shall we say £5 a month?”
At that point I pretended I could hear the baby crying and bid them a hasty goodbye.
The second time it happened I panicked, gave the woman a false name and told her my grill pan had caught fire.
The third time I hid in the kitchen until they’d gone.
At this point I should explain that I already make several monthly donations to causes I’ve chosen.
I’m also the first person to put money in a collection tin or champion the plight of a charity in the pages of this newspaper.
But in my opinion people should enjoy knowing they’ve helped a good cause – and what isn’t enjoyable is being bullied or coerced.
And quite frankly, nor is having to run to the kitchen every time the doorbell goes.
Article first published in the Westmorland Gazette on June 11, 2015