Today I have been leafleting all day. With sore knuckles and sore knees I can definitely feel it and as I traced my way up and down garden paths I had time to reflect on leafletting and letterboxes. We are the unsung heros of the election. Without us, voters would feel ignored and bereft of that essential election communication.
Nottingham is a very hilly city and most houses have drives and steps that the weary leafletter must go up and down, up and down. As I wend my way I remind myself that leafleting is one of the best workouts known to woman or man.
The motto of a good leafleter is ‘Be Prepared’. Okay so that is also the motto of the Scouts. Hats, sunglasses, raincoats, it will be you against the weather. You will also need a good size shoulder bag to carry and protect your leaflets against the aforementioned weather. Do not be tempted to use a plastic carrier bag. They will break and the weight of your leaflets will cause them to cut a painful red ring in your wrist. Plus you will need both hands for the intricate task of leafletting. Finally, you will need your trusty ‘pusher’. You can get specially designed one but a ruler or even a short sturdy stick will do. Never leave home without it!
There are some clear rules to delivering political materials direct to the electorate. If possible do try to avoid irritating the householder. It makes little sense to slog up and down the pathway only to deliver the vote directly into the hands of the opposition. If you open a gate, close and latch it correctly. Assume someone, (shift worker, baby), is sleeping. Creep in and creep out. Whatever you do don’t let the letterbox bang. Never ever go across someone’s garden however tempting, and some gardens are very tempting, especially town houses with no fences and extra long paths. Someone will always see and take offence. Talking of offence, a prime way to render a resident incandescent is to leave a leaflet sticking out of their letterbox. Always, always push your leaflet all the way through the letterbox.
Which brings us to letterboxes… where shall I begin? All leafletters become letterbox connoisseurs. Personally I prefer the horizontal widescreen version situated in the middle of the door. My pet peeve are the ones on the bottom of the door that make you stoop down. (see sore knees). I have leafletted for elections over many years and each time I develop an increasing respect and sympathy for the trusty ‘postie’. Letter boxes can be viscious! Never mind a simple cover on the outside of the door, modern letter boxes seem designed to prevent you actually getting any kind of communication through them. Most outer covers have an extra strong spring to keep the wind and weather out. I can understand and live with that. But then you have to get your leaflet past a stiff double hedge of bristles akin to a yard broom. Get your leaflet through that and you run into an inner cover with an even stronger spring. You will also find that the householder with a letter box like the serried rows of a shark’s teeth is also the most insistant that the leaflet is pushed all the way through. This is where your ‘pusher’ will become essential. The mantra of all experienced leafleters is, whatever you do, do not push your fingers through that letter box. If you don’t get them bruised and battered by the letterbox you will surely find them bitten off by the silent but deadly dog in wait behind the door! Not an election goes by without some poor soul ending up in A&E. Be warned!
Most leaflets are the wrong size for the average letterbox. Plus you need to fold your leaflet to get sufficient rigidity to get it through that letterbox. Personally, I prefer to pre-fold, but others will fold ‘on the fly’. Remember that shoulder bag? Sling it around your back out of the way while one hand manoeuvres the letterbox and the other manipulates the leaflet and ‘pusher’. Keep those fingers OUT of that letterbox while you ensure the leaflet goes all the way through and flutters to the floor on the other side. Success! And on to the next.
Leafletting does have it’s charms. I love to see all the different houses and gardens, stamped with their owner’s personality. It is a great way to get to know your patch up close. Most folks are friendly and pleased to see you. Sometimes they will ask for a poster. It is also suprising what you come across. Only the other day I leafletted a house to find that the front door key left in the lock! With a note on the door, the key was left in a neighbour’s safekeeping. No dawdling now, nine hundred leaflets to deliver today.