This morning at Pritchard Towers, I’d just sat down to breakfast in the smaller dining-room, and Jeeves was just bringing the starter course of three scrambled Ostrich eggs when there was a thunderous knock at the tradesman’s entrance, to which Jeeves noticeably grimaced…

OK – I was half way through a chicken mayonnaise sandwich (Mayo expires today, waste not, want not) when there was a hammering at the front door.  I spotted a red van outside so I thought that it was a postal delivery.  On opening the door I was confronted by one of the most fearsome sights that a householder can behold – a doorstep salesman waving leaflets and asking “Are you the householder?”  For the sake of this blog post I’ll refer to him as Gary.

I toyed with the idea of answering ‘No, I’m Jeeves the butler’ but foolishly answered ‘Yes’.  Gary gestured heavenward, but rather than saying ‘Are you saved by the love of Jesus Christ?’ he said Gutters – have you thought of having them replaced?”

“Not really. I know they need it but can’t afford it. Thanks.”

“Well, we do uPVC,.”

“Yes, I understand what you’re saying but we can’t afford it.”

“But your neighbours have gutters like we sell.”

“We don’t have the money. We can’t afford it.”

“What if we could bring the price down.”

“We don’t have the money. Doesn’t matter how cheap your stuff is. We don’t have any spare money right now. It’s all spoken for. We don’t have the  money. OK?”

At this point I could see that my words had sunk in and he looked a little crestfallen.

“So, not interested?”

“That’s right, not interested.”

And he went on his way, back to his little red van.

I was enormously pleased at this point. I was about to consider whether attempting to explain using progressive dance might work.  Alternatively, I could have just grabbed a Bible and my cassock and yelled ‘Brother, are YOU saved by the blood of your saviour, Jesus Christ? Let me pray with you, bother! Fall to your knees in supplication before our Lord…’  But I would be worried that he might genuinely be seeking spiritual enlightenment…

I assume he drives around the streets of Sheffield doing ‘drive by assessments’ of gutters. Ours are really easy to asses. They’re about 40 years old with plants in some parts.  If there is such a thing as a ‘Gutter Spotters Guide’ then we’re in the section of ‘Antique and decaying’.

Our gutters lover the front door when there is a shower; when there is heavy rain it’s a veritable waterfall. There are whole civilizations of waterborne life that depend upon our leaky gutters for their existence. I’m not sure that I want ecocide on my conscience.

On a serious note, I would have hoped that saying ‘I’ve no money to pay you’ would have rung alarm bells in even the most inept salesman’s mind.  Maybe over the years ‘I can’t afford it’ was a genuinely easy excuse to attempt to force the price down.  But I think that the world is very different today; if there is no spare money, and no ACCESS to spare money, ‘I can’t afford it’ is simply a statement of fact – there is no way in which I could pay for your goods and services even if I wanted them.

I know that the gutters need attention, along with drive ways and paths; but right now there is no money.  Maybe I should set up a crowdfunding account….


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