Posted on Tuesday 26th June 2007 at 00:00
BANG BANG BANG goes the front door, each knock coming in rapid succession.

Oh great thinketh I, Another moron who hasn't noticed that we have a door bell!

I've half a mind not to answer the door to anyone who won't request my attention in the proper way, but I'm expecting a package to be delivered - a new smartphone - and I don't want it to be taken away again. I lumber off the bed and step out into the hall. Upon opening the door I discover the culprit to be a small girl, presumably one of the neighbour's children, with a piece of paper and a pen in her hand.

Given that there is no package to be seen, I assume she isn't here to deliver my phone, and I have to fight to hide the disappointment from my face.

'Will you sponsor me for sports day? she asks in a voice so quiet that I'm left wondering if the sight of a fat man who hasn't shaved or combed his hair in three days is the most frightening thing the child has ever seen.

'Sure? I reply instinctively, before realising that sponsorship amounts will have increased faster than pocket money since I was her age, and that that one word of agreement may have just cost me a tenner. I wonder briefly whether or not I could get away with changing my mind and telling her to shove off, but instead I take the sheet from her and scan down the amounts column. It seems the kid has already terrorised half the street, and I'm glad to see that no one has been foolish enough to dish out more than '2 so far.

The going rate is apparently only a quid, which suits me just fine. Having filled in the form I ask her if she wants the money then and there. She grins at me and I retreat into my room for the change.

'There you go. Good luck', I mutter awkwardly, realising for the first time that not only and I too old to be considered 'cool? by the kids on our street, I'm probably old enough to conceivably be this girl's dad.

Five minutes later the door is beaten into submission once more. I gingerly glace out of the window to see half a dozen kids lined up with identical sheets of paper. Clearly the girl has spread the word that there's a gullible prat home whom they should milk for all he's worth. I look at my collection of loose change, do the maths and decide not to answer the door.

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