God sends Channel 5 and oven gloves

Share
Related Topics
I was at home last week, minding my own business (which I can't tell you about, obviously, as it was my own business), when there came a knock at the door. Then there came a ring at the door. Finally there came a shout of: "Anyone in?"

Reluctantly I stopped minding my own business, and went to answer the door, where I found a smart-looking young man with a large bag over his shoulder.

"Good morning," he said. "I wonder if you have ever read this little book?" And he pushed a religious tract into my hand, which I saw at a glance would lead to eternal salvation if I followed its precepts.

"No," I said, "and nor do I want to. Eternal salvation sounds too gloomy by far. Temporary salvation, maybe. Salvation every other Thursday, definitely. But not the eternal kind."

His eyes never flickered.

"You're not a religious person, then?"

"I have my own personal arrangements with God," I said. "He doesn't bother me and I don't bother Him."

"Fine," said the man. "How are you off for oven gloves?"

"Pardon?" I said, taken slightly off-guard.

"We have some particularly good gloves at the moment," he said, opening his bag to reveal a spread of domestic treasures. "This is the good old- fashioned cotton kind, absolutely proof against burns, in three traditional colours ..."

"Hold on," I said, "I thought you were a God salesman."

"And so I am," he said. "If you had shown any signs of being saved I would have tried to save you, but as you were obviously beyond redemption, I thought you might buy some oven gloves."

"Do you think oven gloves will redeem me in some way not known even to oven-glove manufacturers?"

"I will ignore your snide tone," he said. "I will merely point out that those of us who tramp from door to door trying to spread the gospel, and usually failing, have recently realised that we should diversify. We have unique access to the front doors of the kingdom. Why not use it to sell useful objects as well?"

"And make a bit of money on the side?"

"And make a bit of money on the side. Now, we have also got garden kneelers, clothes pegs, ironing board covers ...."

He went through the usual list of pedlar's wares. As usual, I didn't really need any of them. As usual, I bought lots. I have almost enough gardening gloves now to start my own peddling business. Maybe that is how a lot of door-to-door pedlars get started. They're simply off-loading the stuff they have bought from other pedlars.

I started to close the door to indicate that I had run out of ready money.

"Well, if you're not going to buy any more," he said, "perhaps I could come in and get on with the rest of my business."

"The rest of your business? Reading the gas meter, perhaps?" I said, with a return of my snide tone. "Watering my house plants? Doing a bit of letter dictation?"

"Retuning your TV set to Channel 5," he said.

"You're a Channel 5 retuner?" I said.

I hadn't been expecting this one.

"Once you're a combination missionary and pedlar," he said, "it is but a small step to taking on other functions. Many small fundamentalist churches have eagerly embraced the opportunity to learn a new skill, that of retuning your TV set to receive the new channel. Indeed, you could say, could you not, that we men and women are all of us TV sets, human TV sets, as it were, but only programmed to receive what we want to hear. How easy it would be to retune our hearts to receive God's message! Would it not be better to point your aerial in the direction of good news? Why not let Heaven retune your heart now ...!"

"No," I said.

"No, what?"

"No, I don't want it."

"Don't want God's word? Or Channel 5?"

"Neither. Either. I do not want to receive God's word and I do not want to receive more television. In a sense, you know, we are all like off switches. We can all turn ourselves off and go and do something more useful."

"You get a free gift if you let me retune you to Channel 5."

"A free gift from Channel 5?"

"Yes. Some perfume."

"What kind of perfume?"

"Chanel No 5, of course!"

He roared with laughter. He roared alone. Never swap jokes with a salesman, that's my motto. I started to close the door again. He bade me a reluctant farewell and started to retreat. I opened the door again. He stopped.

"As a matter of interest," I said, "tell me one thing. Why didn't you diversify a little further and take the golden opportunity to do some canvassing for one of the parties in the election?"

"We did think of that," he said.

"And?"

"We decided there were some things we wouldn't sink to."

Fair enough.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Marketing Manager - Leicestershire - £35,000

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager (CIM, B2B, MS Offi...

Marketing Executive (B2B and B2C) - Rugby, Warwickshire

£22000 - £25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A highly successful organisation wit...

SEN Coordinator + Teacher (SENCO)

£1 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Job Purpose To work closely with the he...

Research Manager - Quantitative/Qualitative

£32000 - £42000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client is curr...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Piper Ryan Randall leads a pro-Scottish independence rally in the suburbs of Edinburgh  

i Editor's Letter: Britain survives, but change is afoot

Oliver Duff Oliver Duff
Some believe that David Cameron is to blame for allowing Alex Salmond a referendum  

Scottish referendum: So how about the English now being given a chance to split from England?

Mark Steel
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam