I did another day of leafleting in Highgate today, this time in the enormous Victorian mansions which stretch from the village down to Hampstead Heath. I have seldom seen houses with such enormous gardens. We're talking properties with three quarters of an acre of land, which by London standards is almost obscene. Obviously one tries ones hardest to look in awe rather than envy, but I have seen grand pianos in front rooms which would make a grown composer weep! Of course you can't help but wonder how competent the musicians are who play those stunning instruments, or whether there's any sense of how lucky they are when they do!
It reminds me a little of how I felt as a child when I heard Jacqueline du Pre had given 'cello lessons to Prince Charles. Even then I wondered whether the Prince would ever realise quite what an honour was being bestowed on him. Perhaps the honour was all Jacqueline's. Maybe she dined out on horror stories about what a terrible noise he was making!
Another clear memory I have from childhood days is my mother sitting down with me and saying she didn't think it would ever be possible for me to have my own 'cello. We just weren't wealthy enough. I resigned myself to being content to play the instrument which we'd borrowed from the county council (the kind of instrument which recent cuts have meant that kids are no longer offered.)
Anyway, that night on the telly they showed a 'cello being smashed up in a comedy sketch. I was horrified. If I couldn't have a 'cello, how could there possibly be enough 'cellos in the world for one to be smashed up? I think I wanted to write to the BBC to let them know how appalled I was by the sight, but things got in the way. Besides, a year or so later, my Nana died and left me enough money in her will to buy my own, and I've never really looked back.
The misery of leafleting became a somewhat easier pill to swallow when I happened upon a Yummy Mummy, getting out of a car on her drive just off Spaniard's Land. As I reached the letter box of her house, I saw with horror that it had the familiar "no junk mail" sign plastered onto it. I turned around and said to the woman, "I'm terribly sorry, I see you have a sign..." She thanked me for not putting the leaflet through her door and then called me back saying "is it a local thing?" I showed her the postcard as she said, "that's not junk mail! We put that sign up to stop the pizza fliers!" She took the postcard from me and I felt a glimmer of sunshine which lasted till the end of her street.
That said, I've not had a single sale yet as a result of all this entrepreneurial activity, but I did drop an apology and a Requiem CD through the woman's door whom I'd rowed with yesterday. I hope she'll at least enjoy listening to it.