Paper & Doors

I remember a line from David Penhaligon: “If you’ve got something to say, put it on a piece of paper and post it through people’s letterboxes”. That’s what I’ve been doing. Even in the age mobile phones and social media the piece of paper still has a major role to play in elections. In amongst the pizza delivery services, window replacement companies and local car mechanics flyers, an election leaflet has a hard time. But it’s a game of numbers where a small percentage of people who pick it up can make all the difference. Going from doorstep to doorstep gives a quick snapshot of an area. Overgrown once cared for gardens or concrete drives with neatly kept shrubs. Fencing for growling dogs or sentinel cats eyeing up all comers. Prized possessions like a 70s American muscle car or a pile of scrap timber propped against a wall. The good, the bad and the ugly are all to be found on a quiet suburban street in a small English town.
Why do I do it? To get a good candidate elected – yes. The spin-off is the steps my watch clocks up which surely must keep me fitter or so I hope. There the natural curiosity to get to know a place too.
Bank Holiday Monday lunchtime we handed out leaflets in the High Street. This time our colourful material was in support of remaining in the European Union. Its surprising how many people still have to make up their minds which way to vote in June. Couples are often divided on the issue. The most argumentative guy I met was Polish. He has no vote in this referendum. Of those who said; no thank you or I want out, there was more 50 plus men. “What have they ever done for us?” was one remark. Even trying to answer this was met with blank disinterest.
Why do I do it? To get a positive outcome – yes. On top of that there is the satisfaction of action, even if it’s a small drop in the ocean. Human reactions are fascinating too. From the brisk rush past ignoring contact to the bright smile from a supporter.
Democracy will not crumble if the humble printed leaflet fades into history. However, today, this simplest form of communication is still one of the mainstays of political campaigning.

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