I had two Jehovah's witnesses at my door last week. This was most unusual. I can' think why it should be, I live on a busy street in a small city or perhaps they just call when I'm out. I get all kinds of people at my door. They can park and look at their maps when they are lost or they see me mucking about in my front garden and waffle over because they can't find the cathedral / the way into town / the way out of town/ the fire station/ the police station or the hospital. I'm not sure whether it is comforting to have the hospital, the fire station and the police station so near. It reminds me of the Naked City when I was little, all those sirens. When something has gone badly wrong they all dash past at once. I can hear them from my bed in the middle of the night. New York has nothing on Durham.
I always try to be kind to people. I blame my mother, I'm so polite even when I'm clearly not interested and it is intrusive - people always bang on the door or ring on the phone when I'm working. It's very frustrating and of course working at home is never thought of as working, you are there to be interrupted.
I smiled at them and thought of how when I finished school, I won an award for religious studies, I'm not kidding you, I used to invite them into the back garden, give them tea and talk about the bible. My mother in law had the easiest answer, she used to smile, say,
'We're Catholics,' which we were of course but I think my husband had the right idea.
When we lived in Ramshaw not far from Barnard Castle we built a house in the dip down by the river and we were hard at work, he was moving and facing stone and I was busy with the cement mixer and this chap appeared around the side of the house. I saw the bible and knew what he was but Richard had much more idea.
'Hello, Fred,' he offered and the guy recognised him and smiled and started on about God and Richard said,
'Wonderful, and while you're here just give me a hand with these stones, will you?'
And the bloke did. I thought it was the perfect answer.
I don't have anything half as good to offer these days except that when the woman said,
'Do you think God can save the world?'
'I just wish he'd get a move on,' and then I went back to work.