Personally, I Blame the Parents
Friday, 11 April 2003
Unlike Marxist ideology, which can be picked up through cultural osmosis, acquiring a knowledge of sciences such as biochemistry and physiology actually involves attending the occasional lecture and reading the occasional text book. One Sunday afternoon in the late 1970s when I was busily cramming for a physiology exam, my desparate attempts to pound an understanding of action potentials into my thick skull were interrupted by a knock on the door. I was living in a shared house but no one else was at home. I thought the polite thing to do would be to answer the door, in case it was a friend of one of the other degenerate pinkoes I was cohabiting with. This was my first mistake that afternoon.
When I opened the door, it looked like there was no one there. Then a thin piping voice from about waist height said "Want to buy a magazine, Mister?" I looked down and saw a copy of The Watch Tower and, attached to the raised arm that was vainly thrusting it in the general direction of my face, a boy of about seven or eight. I was pretty annoyed, so I told the little bugger to piss off in no uncertain terms. This was my second mistake that afternoon.
After I closed the door on the little sod, I went back to the text books but it took quite a while - a good five minutes at least - before I was able to concentrate on study. I felt like a complete turd, until I realised that it wasn't really me who was ultimately responsible for the hurt look and the quivering lip I glimpsed before the door banged shut, but the dickhead parents who had come up with the sleazy idea of sending their kid out on a Sunday afternoon to flog religious tracts. In fact, I had done something which, in the long run, would turn out to be a good thing: I'd sent them a clear message that I was prepared to do whatever it took to protect the peace and quiet of my Sunday afternoon. If enough others were prepared to do the same, perhaps the message would be driven home and he might get to enjoy his Sunday afternoons, instead of being used in a cheap game of evangelism by moral blackmail.
Compared to this, that's a pretty trivial story. All the same, looking back on it, I think that a simple "No thank you" would have been quite enough to deal with the situation.