Wednesday 23 October 2019

Liz Kearney: 'Canvassers - sorry, it's not you, it's me...'

Notebook

'Truthfully, there are few things in life that fill me with as much dread as opening the front door to find a smiling would-be politician - or even worse, a team of their acolytes - waving leaflets at me' (stock photo)
'Truthfully, there are few things in life that fill me with as much dread as opening the front door to find a smiling would-be politician - or even worse, a team of their acolytes - waving leaflets at me' (stock photo)
Liz Kearney

Liz Kearney

What exactly is the correct etiquette for dealing with local election candidates on the doorstep? I wish someone would tell me. Because truthfully, there are few things in life that fill me with as much dread as opening the front door to find a smiling would-be politician - or even worse, a team of their acolytes - waving leaflets at me.

It's not them, it's me. I actually have a lot of time for people who get involved in local politics. I worked for several years at my local newspaper and spent many hours observing them up close in their natural habitat - rowing about local development plans in drafty council chambers, cutting ribbons at new playgrounds, or issuing detailed press releases outlining the exact dimensions of the sizeable pothole on main street - and I learned that the majority of councillors are thoroughly decent, hard-working types who just want to make a positive difference in the communities where they live.

Obviously, the dramatis personae of local politics wouldn't be complete without the occasional megalomaniac thrown into the mix for good measure, but the truly off-putting ones are actually surprisingly rare.

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So I don't object to them calling at the front door to canvass my vote, but they always seem to catch me off-guard. When the first lot of election hopefuls arrived at 8pm on a Monday, I was already in my pyjamas - we live a hardcore rock-and-roll lifestyle in the Kearney household, I can tell you - and it was difficult to say who was more embarrassed.

I did actually have a few questions that I wanted to ask, but I was so ashamed of being caught in my pink tartan PJs and granny slippers while it was still bright outside, I got rid of them as fast as I could.

And then I was left feeling rude and guilty. So when the next candidate dropped by, I tried to make up for it by appearing excessively interested in all matters of public policy.

Where did she stand on local infrastructure, housing, schools, over-development, green spaces, bin collections and public transport? How did she see Brexit affecting local businesses? Was there a role for gender quotas in public offices? No issue, global or local, was left untouched, and when the poor woman finally made her escape with a look of mild panic in her eyes, I felt another pang of guilt for taking up so much of her time when she'd hundreds of other houses to visit.

Funnily enough, she was the last politician to call - and that was two weeks ago. Maybe word has got around that there's a madwoman in her pyjamas at the end of the street who's got far too much time on her hands for political debate. I suppose it's one way of keeping unwanted callers at bay.

Commitment phobia gets in way of 'don't-miss' telly

The last episode of 'Game of Thrones' is approaching and I will be adding the series to the ever-growing litany of 'Shows I Really Meant To Watch But Never Quite Found The Time'. See also: 'The Sopranos', 'The Wire', '24', 'Deadwood'... the list goes on.

It's not that I wasn't interested in watching any of these series. And it's not that I'm any busier than anyone else, its just the commitment involved. If you started watching 'Game of Thrones' in 2011, you would by now have spent a total of two days, 23 hours and 17 minutes doing so, according to the helpful website Bingeclock. Now that's nearly three days that you could have spent enjoying a minibreak in Paris, or redecorating the spare room, or sorting your tax bill. But who am I kidding? I've spent far more hours scrolling mindlessly through my phone than 'GoT' fans have spent watching telly. I'm determined to tackle my commitment phobia by the time the next 'don't-miss' show comes round. That, or throw out my phone...

Irish Independent

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