My first night on the knocker


I knocked on my first strange door as a political canvasser in 1973. I got very wet.

Not politically wet, I have never been that, but dripping wet with what to this day I have believed and hoped to be just cold water.

I had turned up to help at my local Conservative Association constituency office in Surbiton.

I was 16 years old.

The party agent Jeanette Allen put me on a mini-bus going over to South Battersea for a night’s canvassing in a GLC by-election campaign.

I didn’t know what canvassing was really. Somebody gave me a rosette, a clip board and a pencil and told me to knock on the doors on the list on the board and ask people if they would be supporting our candidate.

That was my entire briefing.

I was then sent off on my own into a strange street in a part of London I had never visited, and was not the trendy estate agent’s heaven for the young middle classes it is today.

I knocked on a door. I waited. An upstairs sah window was thrown open. A lady’s head emerged, followed by hands throwing the contents of a bucket over my head below.

As I stood there, dripping wet on a very cold Autumn evening, the lady looked out again and said “oh blimey, I’m sorry I though’ you woz me ‘usband.”

First lesson of canvassing learned. Never stand too close to a door before it’s opened, and … look up.

As some compensation, the lady said “were’ all Tory ‘ere.” I suspect not. But at least she was thoughtful!

That was my first night’s canvassing. Remarkably it didn’t put me off.



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