Friday, 29 November 2013

Postcards

I have had some postcards printed which advertise the London Requiem CD. We've made them specifically to appeal to Highgate residents, mentioning that the work includes settings of inscriptions written on gravestones in Highgate Cemetery and that the CD would make an ideal present for a lover of the area.

The postcards look rather lovely. They cost about £50 to print, so if I sell at least ten copies of the CD as a result of having them done, the exercise will have been worth doing.

It's a lottery of course, and the experience of walking door-to-door, sticking them all through letter boxes is painfully embarrassing. Fifteen years ago, instead of signing on, I took a job delivering leaflets for an Indian take away. The restaurant was  in Tufnell Park, but its owner made me deliver the leaflets 2 miles away in Highgate. I was paid £25 to deliver something like 5,000 of the blooming things, but in the hills and huge houses of Highgate, it took 20 hours to drop them all off.

When I returned to the restaurant to collect my money, the owner accused me of not delivering the leaflets, based on the fact that he hadn't had a call from anyone in the streets where I'd been asked to go. Of course he hadn't. There were hundreds of takeaways closer to Highgate than his. Why would anyone want to run the risk of their food getting cold in transit?

My brother, who was with me at the time, went ballistic when the bloke refused to pay up, and made an announcement to the people waiting in the queue to be served, which started with the phrase, "do you realise what kind of an establishment this is? It's a place where staff aren't paid properly..." At the same time, I could hear another member of staff taking a telephone order for someone living in one of the streets I'd delivered to, and when this was pointed out, the man begrudgingly paid me my £25, but there was no way I was ever going back to work for him again.

I'd found the entire experience genuinely upsetting. I was dating an MP at the time, and someone who I knew from that rather glitzy political world emerged from one of the houses and asked me what I was up to. I felt rather ashamed. I shouldn't have. But I did.

Anyway, all these feelings came tumbling back with a vengeance today. Every time I reached a letter box, another little piece of me died. It's particularly galling when you make your way down a long Highgate Garden path only to find a neat little sign on the door which says "no junk mail." Every fibre of the body screams "but this isn't junk mail!" but you know deep within your heart that your beloved postcard is very likely to be simply swept up with all the pizza fliers, and chucked in the bin by some wealthy housewife who feels violated by its appearance. It's amazing what a "non person" you become when doing these things. One particularly obnoxious older woman caught my eye through the window and  wagged her finger patronisingly as though to say "whatever you're delivering is of no interest to me, you scruffy little Eastern European." I pretended not to know what she meant, smiled sweetly and delivered the postcard anyway. If she's only gonna throw it away, the snooty cow can get on her knees and pick it up first!

I tell you something, houses in Highgate have a heck of a lot of steps going up to them - I counted 34 on one house, just to get to the front door alone! It's great for the fitness levels, I'll tell you.

I note with interest an incredibly mean-spirited comment in response to my blog yesterday, which comes from an anonymous New Yorker who apparently went to university with me. Whoever wrote it plainly misconstrued my reminiscences about Christian Mackay as some sort of insult, which is about as far from the case as it's possible to journey. I'm incredibly proud of Christian's success, and the thrust of what I was writing was that we should never pigeon-hole anyone.

It never ceases to amaze me how people can hold grudges for so long, or quite what they expect to achieve from writing such vitriolic things, unprovoked and in a public forum, particularly anonymously. People often pick me up on things I say in this blog which they don't agree with. I don't claim to be the oracle and am always interested to hear another side to the argument, but frankly, if you don't like someone, or if you think their life's work has been a failure, why on earth bother to read their blog? I don't like soul music. I don't sit and listen to it of an evening simply to punish myself.

Anyway, anonymous New Yorker, if you're reading today's entry and fancy a chat, and I genuinely have offended you in some way, I'd love to find out why you left the post and if there's anything I can do to make you feel less animosity towards me!

Just send me an email on ben@benjamintill.com

And if there's anyone reading this who thinks they'd like a copy of the Requiem (it's a great stocking filler...) you can go to amazon, or my website to order a copy.

Www.benjamintill.com

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