Richard Ord: The days when the doorbell chime didn’t spell doom

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There was a time when I was engulfed in excitement when the doorbell rang.

What joys was that “bing bong” heralding for the Ord family? A gang of mud-spattered pals with a box of spiders? A postman struggling under the weight of a bike-shaped parcel?

Or a camera crew behind Norris McWhirter holding an unfeasibly large cheque?

The possibilities were endless. Erm, in 1976.

In 2017, the heart no longer does somersaults in the chest when the doorbell sounds. It freezes.

That pealing of bells , as Bananarama and the rest of the Band Aid gang may have put it, are the clanging chimes of doom.

No good comes of unexpected doorbell rings.

Chief among the bell ringers these days are charity collectors.

We have a direct debit set up with the bank to funnel cash into various charities, so while I would love to give money to the people who call, we already give a lot to charity.

Do you like that one? We don’t have an account funnelling money to charity, but it’s a good story to get them leave without paying. Feel free to use it. My treat.

I don’t have a problem with cold-calling charity collectors, honest. Parting with cash is my particular problem.

Posties too rarely bring good news. If the postman is calling with mountain gorilla or double-necked electric guitar-shaped packages, you can bet your bottom dollar they are for the neighbour’s up the street. “Can you sign for this? The family at number 48 are out.”

You have to keep the unwieldy bubble-wrapped rocket launcher in the hallway days waiting for them to collect it. Which they don’t. Eventually, you spot their car in the drive, and traipse up the street (in the rain, naturally) to deliver the package.

To rub it in, they’ve just got back from Florida.

If it’s not a neighbour’s parcel, it’s a neighbour. A neighbour with a face like thunder. Although, as we live in a reasonably respectable aspiring middle class area of town, it’s a neighbour with a face like an inclement Sunday.

Sort of blustery with the prospect of intermittent showery squalls and the threat of frost in the evening. THAT kind of face.

I overheard our son Isaac, aged 13, talking about mudballs the other week.

“What are mudballs?” I asked. “Oh, nothing” was his evasive reply.

The neighbour with an overcast face enlightened me. “Missiles of soil and dirt have been raining down on our back wall,” he said.

“They appear to be coming from your back garden.”

Ah, they’ll be mudballs. ISAAC!

Thankfully, the neighbours have stopped calling. In fact, there had been no doorbell rings for several weeks. Clearly the delivery of my tough no-nonsense ‘good talking to’ I had given to our two boys had paid off.

Either that or the doorbell had stopped working, ha, ha!

Turns out the doorbell had stopped working.