The next time the Jehovah’s Witnesses knock on our front door they’re in for a surprise. I don’t suppose they get many; never had a stab at it myself but I imagine their days are full of rejection, don’t you? Everything from polite but peremptory acceptance of the leaflet (yes, yes I’ll be sure to look it over, thank you) to profanity.
It can’t sit too comfortably with them that the words they’re most likely to hear when they rock up to introduce the belief that theirs is the one true Christian faith are “oh christ”.
They’ll have hit the jackpot when they ring our bell to ask if we’ve been thinking about Jesus, though probably not in a manner they could have foreseen.
“Thinking about him?” I’d spit, eyes raging.
“I’ve been thinking about nothing else all morning. That lock on the back door still needs sorting out properly and the rust spot in the bath isn’t getting any smaller. What is the point of having a mobile phone if you never pick up?”
At this point there’d be a glance exchange between (the inevitable two of) them, perhaps the deployment of a pre-arranged “safe” word as I step forward, alternating a manic stare between one and the other.
“Why? You haven’t seen him, have you?”
My head bobbing and weaving as I look for Jesus behind them.
They’d have taken a step or two back.
“Never mind, never mind” I’d mumble, retreating into the doorway in my dressing gown and my Friday-to-Sunday beard, “I’ve got his email address.”
One of them – the brave one – might risk a last lunge forward to thrust the literature through a narrowing gap.
“Oh christ, I mean, ah yes, The Watchtower. Great. I’ll be sure to look it over…”
You don’t have to go too far, do you? Front porches are where the good stories start, and they often come to you. Of course the above is imaginary, but still.
You might say the threshold is where travel begins, the beginning of our encounter with the world. Our doorway has been a bit of a hot spot for encounters, though not the kind we’ve been looking for. It would appear from a brief chat we’ve had with our landlord, Jesús, that it isn’t just our world that begins in our front garden – pretty much every stray cat in the neighborhood was born there it seems, fed and cared for by the nutty nutbag bonkers cat lady that lived here before us.
The smell of the garden – and indeed of the house – when we moved in would corroborate his story. A mop and a few buckets of bleached water later the house was sorted out but I have been working on the garden – with its rich deposits of cat waste – for months now.
Not without success – I have turned the soil over and laid down chicken wire, installing a range of the aromatic herbs which are said to repel felids. I make psychopathological hissing noises and pull some pretty demonic facial expressions whenever I see a cat in, or indeed near, our garden. I have sprinkled the thing with coffee and lemon, and cayenne pepper. It’s better now, I suppose you could say.
Better, but not yet good.
There is one cat, one bold, persistent cat. I’m fairly sure it’s one of those born here because having a quick poo in some corner of my garden isn’t enough for this little fella. Oh no. Once a night, every night, he sidles into our porch and right up to the door – for a piss.
Every night. Haven’t caught him yet, just the stench. He must be doing it at one of those times you don’t get to see even when you stay up late or get up early – three in the morning or something silly like that.
This and the daily swarm of flies that hover over the shit-strewn space out front has led to a bit of an arms race at the front door – the tools of war; heavy-duty insecticide for the flies, mop and bucket for the urine, a plastic spray-bottle full of water and lemon oil for the smell and our latest acquisition: a pump action water gun for the cat.
I’m not yet so deranged as not be aware that flailing away with a can of fly spray out the front will have made me a figure of fun for the neighbours. Nor will my deodorising efforts with the plastic spray-bottle have failed to amuse them. I can feel eyes on me whenever I mop the garden path.
But it’ll all be worth it the day I catch the little bastard at it and I get to use the gun.
And it may not end there. K suggests a potential addition to the arsenal by the front door one evening as I potter around Youtube, watching a debate in which Richard Dawkins is taking part. The Jehovah’s Witness of atheism. I can’t remember the last time I saw K in a church but she certainly does loathe Richard Dawkins.
“God help him if he pitches up”, she says.
I can see him in the porch – backing up slowly and not sure how to feel – as K levels her weapon of choice at him: another pump-action water gun.
I’d flap around behind her, trying to warn him, pointing at the gun, mouthing the words holy water frantically.
“Look here”, I might interject, fixing him with the mad stare as he continues to retreat from my dressing gown, my stubble, my armed girlfriend.
“You’re actually…you see, the thing is…you’re actually putting us in a bit of a position.”
My head bobbing about again, looking over his shoulders. Then all of a sudden I’d be in close, his lapel in my hand.
“Jesus could be here any minute…”Follow @RobinJGraham