Your cold weather payment comes in a brown envelope and looks like a tax demand.
I tell you this so that you’ll be forewarned because the shock may very well kill you.
The sense of outrage I felt when they sent me this insult through the post took years off my life, I’m sure of it: How dare they! Do they think I’m a little old man sitting by an empty fire with a blanket over my knees?
It took me six months to find something good to come out of this. But today, I thought I’d found it. I went to a Probus lunch.
Probus, if you’ve not heard of it, is an organisation for retired or semi-retired profession and business men. Once a week they get out of their wives hair (as they put it) and have lunch at the golf club and after lunch there’s a talk.
And I thought: “What a mine of potential good quality customers. But I knew I had to be careful – I could ruin everything if I rushed at it and started prospecting as soon as I got through the door: The word would soon go out – don’t sit next to him, he’s only here to flog his utility services. I might even be black-balled!
And since I find it almost impossible to keep quiet about my piggy club, I resolved not to mention it in this new one at all – not on the first day.
But then, as lunch wore on … and on, I began to have my doubts. For one thing I was the youngest there (the oldest was 94!). And then we all trooped into another room for a talk on solar eclipses by a man who had personally witnessed 19 of them. My eyelids began to droop. This was all a terrible mistake. I stumbled out into the car park marvelling at my mis-calculation.
Worst of all it was now three O’clock and I still had six people to talk to before 5.00 p.m. when they day shut down as far as the business was concerned.
And then, as I was about to get into the mini I found a golfer staring at . “You can’t help noticing that!” he said. And guess what? His wife spends £100 a week in Sainsburys. One down already.
Next I drove straight into town and started giving out micro-cards. In half an hour I had spoken to another five people and three of them gave me their details – and here’s an interesting thing.
One of those people was a grey-haired man who walked towards me and so I said: “Excuse me, we seem to be of a similar sort of age… I don’t mean to be rude or anything. But I’m going to give you one of these because this rescued me. It’s absolutely brilliant.”
And of course he said “What is it?” and I said. “I’ll tell you all about it if you like, it takes me 30 seconds. Have you got 30 seconds?”
And guess what? It turned out we had worked in Fleet Street together. He was at the Press Association when I was at the Daily Mail. And so there we stood in the street reminiscing about the old days and how pensions are not what they’re cracked up to be. He lives in Hitchin so I told him the man who presented the DVD lives in Tring.
Charming gentleman. We must do lunch…