It’s Sunday morning and something was just torpedoed through my letter box, landing with a loud thump on the mat. It can’t be any ‘proper’ post because it’s Sunday and it’s the morning, neither of which are times when Royal Mail employees visit the Twilight Zone. Ergo, must be junk mail. Junk mail is not allowed here – this is clearly stipulated on the notice stuck on the front of the door. This is not because I’m a grumpy old woman (although I am), it’s because there are no recycling facilities and only a fortnightly bin collection so I don’t want excess rubbish. I rush to the door in order to throw the unwanted goods back at the delivery person. It’s a plastic-wrapped Avon catalogue.
There was a time, many moons ago, when the monthly arrival of a new Avon catalogue was a thing of joy; something to mull over for a good and happy hour. How we loved those little jars of perfumed cream – will it be exotic Topaz or sensual Occur or light-hearted Honeysuckle this time? Can we afford a bigger pot of Timeless skin softener? Dare we purchase more skin-so-soft body oil and risk the next person in the bathroom slipping on the slimy residue despite vigorous cleaning of the bath? The memories flood back, accompanied by images of the various sweet-smelling Avon ladies that followed each other down the years.
I open the door in readiness to chase the glamorous 2013 model down the road, perhaps even get a free sample for my effort. A breathless ancient being is perched on my wall, bent double. Her hair – what there is of it – has been dyed and bleached beyond recognition of any colour known to man or woman. She wears a flimsy blue tie-dyed blouse and a pair of shorts and is leaning against a walking stick. I pop my catalogue into her trolley bag and enquire after her well-being. ‘Bloody sciatica’, she responds and I get chapter and verse of the duration of said complaint, the useless doctor, ineffective medication and would it be alright if she rested awhile on the wall. It’s her husband’s round she’s currently doing – he’s too ill to do it himself. She’s got her own to do afterwards. To my mind, this seems more than a little optimistic. ‘Can’t you just go home and have a rest’, I ask? ‘I’ll crawl on to number 46’, the Avon lady decides, ‘then I’ll phone him and he’ll just have to get out of his bloody sick bed and come and get me’.
I can’t do anything to help so I wish her well. I don’t know what any of this means really except that if she and her unseen spouse are so old and decrepit, it seems a sorry state of affairs to be forced into such a business to make a few pennies on a Sunday morning.