The other day I was going round Totterdown putting flyers through people's doors advertising my services as an IT home tutor, when I got savaged by a dog.
Yes I did. Don't give me that tilted head look. I was savaged on the finger. Savaged on the finger by a dog.
It wasn't a normal dog. Normal dogs just want you to go away. When they hear you by the door, they bark. It's an evolutionary strategy designed to deter, without the need for conflict.
This one was quiet as a mouse. The first and second last sign of its presence was a sharp pain in the finger, then it hit the door a tenth of a second later. Doors being generally stronger and smarter than dogs, our interaction ended with the finger-savaging foreplay, rather than moving on to the bone-crunching main event. In fact, I've no real grounds for asserting that it was a dog at all. It could just as easily have been Chucky, or a sensor-activated stapler mounted on a bolt gun.
It wasn't the only problem I met on my rounds. The flaps on some people's letter boxes are on the kind of hinges you'd use to seal fuel intakes on space shuttles. One of them bit me worse than the hypothetical dog. If NASA had got letter box manufacturers to design their O-rings, Christa McAuliffe would still be teaching.
And it would be nice if I got some kind of response, after the zero responses I amassed last week. Half the people who live in these houses have signs offering reiki or homeopathy. I refuse to believe people like that already know everything about computers they need to know. Perhaps they rejected my leaflet because the evidence I offered for my tutoring skills wasn't rigorous enough, or maybe they were worried in case repeated exposure to computers had made me radioactive. Either way, nobody except the stealth dog was biting.
You do learn stuff though. One thing I learnt was that houses on main roads are far more likely to have been converted into flats. I think this is because main roads were considered desirable before the onset of modern traffic, so they got the biggest houses, but now that wealthy people don't want to live on them they have to subdivide them to make them viable.
Another thing I learnt was this. It clearly makes more sense to do one side of a street, then the other, rather than criscrossing constantly, but in a hilly area (and Totterdown has the steepest roads in Bristol) that means you have to go up and down twice as many hills. How steep does a hill have to be before crisscrossing becomes the most economic approach? Surprisingly steep, but when it comes to steepness many Totterdown streets are surprising enough.
This strategy had better work, anyway. I've sat down and done the spreadsheet, and if I don't get any extra income the first standing order to bounce will be the mobile phone bill on July 16. How annoyingly common to be broke in the middle of the same recession that's breaking everybody else.