The house clearance people had been primed of my imminent arrival and had set the horn aside for me. I imagined that going into the partly eviscerated house would be painful and shocking. And in a way it was. The banging about upstairs by strangers. The boxes being carted outside to the van. The furniture moved and strewn around the sitting room ready for removal. But they had put my granddad’s old radio on and the noise – any noise at all in fact in a house that has been horribly quiet for 6 months – was comforting. And somehow right. It made me feel better about someone new moving in.
But this isn’t why I am writing. The visit was still emotional. Still upsetting. Another acknowledgment in a whole line of unwanted acknowledgements that the time is nearing (is already here in fact at the time of writing) when I will no longer have access to this much loved house. So I was rather mournful as I meandered home again. But having time to myself was what I needed. A bit of head space. A bit of heart space.
As I neared home all I wanted to do was get inside, shut the door and have a quiet moment or two.
However, when I reached the house my way was barred. Wayne, our friendly neighbourhood window cleaner had his ladder propped up over the front door and was cleaning the window above. I briefly thought about walking around the block until he was done – I really didn’t want to talk to anyone – but in the end I decided that I was just being silly. A quick nod and a hello and I’d be in. I could even pay him on the spot and save him having to call round and disturb my evening meal later. So I approached the house.
As I did so Wayne spotted the horn and, quite naturally I guess, asked if I did much hunting. I explained the situation and by way of explaining revealed that my grandfather had died 6 months ago – the last of my grandparents.
Did I believe in God, Wayne asked.
Hmm. I should have picked up on the warning signs here but instead answered truthfully – I was no longer sure.
Over the next 20 minutes, ignoring my obvious distress and desire to get away (how loudly do I have to jangle my front door keys for God’s sake?) Wayne, our window cleaner, did his best to proselytize me into his own personal religio-political worldview.
Did I know that the laws of the West are based on Canonical Law? The Ten Commandments? Did I know that the West was falling? Falling not to Islamic Fundamentalism but to... (and here’s one from the back of the closet) communism? It has been creeping in for decades. The powers that be know about it but are lying to us about it. Because they are not really in control. The true leaders are hidden and secret.
Alarm bells were really ringing now but I could not escape. Even though mentally I was swearing at this man to shut the eff up and go away all I could manage were monosyllabic replies and grunts, still in emotional shock I suppose, desperately trying to inch my way to the front door that was held prisoner beneath his ladder.
And then came the biggy. The national deficit. The global financial collapse. He explained that all this had come about because originally the idea of loaning money at a set and reasonable rate of interest had been laid down in the Old Testament – but all this was now being ignored. The interest rates were now designed to take more and more money from people, designed so that nobody would ever be able to pay it all back again. It was designed to keep us all servile and malleable. And the bankers... the bankers... they were all... Satanists. He looked me in the eye as he said this and nodded sagely. Yep, he said. Satanists. He genuinely believed that.
Great, I thought. A religious nut is coming to my house every month to clean my freaking windows. And he had seemed such a nice guy before all of this.
In the end I made some jokey closing comment that grated upon my own tongue and lunged for the front door. I got the key into the lock and turned it. Phew! I had made it. Wayne, however, was unrepentant (well, he has no need to be I guess) and was still going on and on... I’d be OK, he said. I’d be fine because I was on the right path. The path my grandparents had laid down for me... Blah blah blah.
I shut the door and fumed.
How dare he? He doesn’t know anything about me and certainly knows nothing at all about my grandparents. Both were Christian but neither forced any kind of religion down my or my sisters' throats. Their religion was a very personal thing – as indeed all religion should be.
The whole encounter left a bad taste in my mouth and I am still angry about it. Outraged in fact. Did Wayne really think he was spreading “the good word”, “the good news”? What an awful ragbag of pub lounge paranoia and twisted up personal bigotries. I’d arrived home feeling vulnerable and had been trampled on by someone who’s only interest was to try and recruit me into an ugly, ignorant doctrine of their own making and score some kind of self esteem point.
Far from helping me find my religion again it made me want to turn my back on all of them and keep walking.
What a git.
If eyes are the windows to the soul, I want Wayne nowhere near mine.
What an ignorant and tactless git. Get yourself a new window cleaner, Steve.
I was brought up by a religious mother who believed it was the height of bad manners to discuss religion with strangers and I would agree with her. Religion is a purely personal matter and you should not go shoving your views down other people's throats.
Alienne: your mother sounds like a very wise lady indeed.
I've had that sort of idiot preaching at me, before now, too. They always pick the wrong moment. Aside from his shitty opinions and beliefs, he's probably never lost anyone dear to him, and he most certainly can't empathise.
I'm sorry for your loss, both of your grandparents and their house. I still remember my maternal grandmother's house (my maternal grandfather died before I was born so I never knew him) and wonder what became of it - it's probably been sold, but I wasn't involved in the sale of it. I have two different memories of her house - one from the last time I saw it, only partially occupied long after they died, and also from when it was full of loving family. I much prefer the latter memory.
Hold on to the good memories and what makes you feel better, Steve - that's what'll get you through.
Val: thanks Val. I've got about 600 photos from my grandparent's house to scan into my computer - these are helping immensely; it's like revisiting good times.
I'm sorry that you're going through a sad time.
It was a rotten thing for your window cleaner to have done, to seize on your vulnerability like that and use it in order to try to convert you to his way of thinking.
Take care. x
Gappy: thanks. I guess in his own mind he thought he was offering comfort and solace. It just made me thankful that I'm not more intimately involved with his mind!
You know, the filters some people have in their brains are just faulty from the get go. They never work properly. Sorry you had to go through this bit of garbage when you were so happy to get the horn. I hope we hear the story of Christmas morning. I can just picture Bampop (?) blowing it in Gran's ear and pissing her off no end. Best to you. Enjoy those photo memories.
Femminismo: oh I was very happy to get the horn(!)... he he! I guess dear Wayne was blinded by his own agenda. Looking back on it he was looking for an "opening" from the moment the conversation started. He must get pretty bored on his window cleaning round and have far too much time on his hands to think. Either that or he had a religious moment with his Chamois when no-one was looking...
I hate people like that.
I drive a taxi and sometimes I get conversations starting up about religion, Irish history, politics etc.
I try to veer away from anything that's personal.
The volcano and the effect on the weather has kept me going for a while.
I'd be rather tempted to get a new window cleaner personally. Or at least give him a toot on your horn.
Monalisa: I think these days the only safe subject is the weather in general... unless of course it moves onto global warming and whether it's real or not. Hmm. Sometimes it's just easier and safer to keep mum.
Dan: I think if I let him have a toot on my horn he'd fully expect the walls of my house to come tumbling down...
Window cleaners obviously aren't what they used to be.
Fran: it could only have been worse if it had been George Formby himself.
But he knows he is in the right; God told him..
If you start thinking how many of them are out there, it will frost your scrotum.
Unfortunately, I'm pretty sure they are more prevalent in the U.S. and even more so in the Halls of Power.
Made all the worse by being right at your front door, barring you from your safety. I agree, it's time for Wayne and his (closed, little) world to go. "Party time. Excellent."
This is the trouble with religious freaks. They are charged with evangelising and spreading the word and bringing over non-believers when they forget that the true basic foundation of most religions is love. He should have shown you a little compassion and understanding and listened rather than talked. That's how you offer comfort. Stupid git! (Him....not you!)
English Rider: scrotum duly frosted.
Being Me: too right. I always preferred Austin Powers anyway.
Selina: "listened rather than talked". Yes. That's the nail right there on the head. Thank you.
All in all Wayne sounds lika anudder pane in the glass - still, look ooze torquing now, eh?
I must say, I find politics and religion mildly amusing as long as one doesn't take'm too seriously... on the other hand, they're also deadly :( as some people tend to get all worked up about them - or, not to mention - don't even notice; that both lead to all sorts of hell/war/useless waffling and er, ah....
Ankh on... the godz are scenting a message to even this cheerfool disbeliever...
On this drizzly day thou shalt gusto thy kitchen and maketh everythink batter and heatest thine waffle iron. And syrup, after all - it's only the end of the world every day, eh man?
Joe: all this talk of kitchens, batter and waffles... you've obviously been overdosing on the gut book. And that's not a criticism at all. Chef's always wear white and white is supposedly the colour of godliness. Amen(u).
I was no longer sure.
oops. sorry wayne. i think i just kicked the ladder out from under you as i walked past.
love that you rescued the horn.
peace to you steve X
Katie: any time you want to come round my house and exercise your ladder kicking skills you will be very, very welcome!
I kinda feel sorry for God given the sorta friends he has in Jesus.
Barry: I know. Everyone else gets to choose their friends but not their family; guess God has it the other way around...! ;-)
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