It was quite a special day today because an actual stereotype came and knocked on the door.
I’ll set the scene, it was late afternoon. Maybe about half an hour before dusk. I was living the dream, busy ironing things and just watching the Eurogamer PUBG stream because that brings nothing but pleasure whenever it is on.
Outside, unbidden, a van pulls up. I casually glance at it, wondering what it may be. It’s always weird when vans pull up outside your house, especially when you’re well aware that there is space outside most other houses in the street so they must be pulling up for some reason. I had no idea what that reason could be – anything that had been ordered for delivery to the house had been delivered by this point.
I continued ironing and enjoying the heroic exploits of Ian and Jonny. There was a knock at the door.
I muttered things, as I do when there is a knock at the door. I went to it and opened it. There was no-one there. You always know you’re onto a winner when someone knocks on the door and in the very short space of time it takes you to open it they’ve already gone to the end of your path so that they can better illustrate whatever nonsense point it is they want to illustrate.
And then he started asking me about doing the fascia around the top window and the guttering and things. Now, this is something that needs doing. That’s not news to us. We know this. It’s just not really been a huge priority and, in many ways, is more of a ball ache than anything because it’s all quotes and nonsense and money and meh. So, you may wonder, why didn’t I just snap the man’s hand off?
Well, for starters, who actually accepts offers of things from people who randomly appear in the area. Apart from my mum that one time? Exactly. No-one. I am very much of the belief that if I want something – or want something doing – it’s up to me to decide that. I don’t sit around waiting until a cold caller gets in touch with what is probably the best deal in the history of the world ever if I’m just willing to agree to it all before I realise I need something doing. Like, say, if I was on fire. I’d phone the fire brigade to come and put it out. I wouldn’t wait for someone from the fire brigade to get in touch on the off-chance I needed something extinguishing.
For seconds, and this is in no way discriminatory, the man was Irish. I didn’t even realise that stereotypical Irish roof people were still a thing? I thought they died out in the 80s alongside rag-and-bone men and Major Morgan. I don’t think a week of my childhood went by without a dirty Irish workman turning up at the door having been doing some work on a roof in the area and noticing, from his vantage point, that something we couldn’t possibly see needed dealing with.
But since my youth, I have not encountered any such person. When I used to work in a betting shop in Horsforth there was an Irish stereotype who used to frequent the shop. He dug holes and smelled of soil. But that was an exception. Other than him, I have not come across anyone like that in ages.
As the man today pointed up at the roof I felt a wave of nostalgia sweep over me. I suddenly found myself wanting a Mr Frosty or a Tin Can Alley. The 80s were alive and well and down at the end of my path trying to get me to pay them money so they could change my guttering.
I felt a little bit bad as I closed the door on him as he was still in mid-flow despite me having said no on at least three occasions.
But hey, if he’s survived since the 80s, one more shut door isn’t going to stop him…