It’s enough to send you off your trolley

MY hands are cold, my toes are numb, I m ready to take on the world and I ve had a doorstep debate with an old lady. Welcome to the lot of the paperboy/girl. It s a tough job, but somebody s got to do it. But why did it have to be me? I shall explain. Mar

MY hands are cold, my toes are numb, I'm ready to take on the world and I've had a doorstep debate with an old lady.

Welcome to the lot of the paperboy/girl. It's a tough job, but somebody's got to do it. But why did it have to be me?

I shall explain. Marie Curie Cancer Care - who maintain a worrying interest in getting me to do all manner of stupid tasks - is running a 'Back to the Floor' initiative.

This involves highly-paid people in positions of power going back to basics on the shop floor, so to speak. I'm doing it as well, by the way.

I'm doing it a week early, but tomorrow (Friday) will see Allan Leighton, the chairman of Royal Mail, becoming a postie while other high-ups going back to their roots include Ken Livingstone (I know, it doesn't bear thinking about) and Fru Hazlott, the chief executive of Virgin Radio.

I'm donating the proceeds from the round to Marie Curie, so the only thing I'll be getting from this particular enterprise is blisters.

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Don't worry, though, because the bag and trolley the distribution people are sending, together with some extra bundles, will make the job a whole lot easier.

Imagine my dismay, then, when I start to prepare for my round with the knowledge that no bag or trolley has been delivered, and there's no sign of the extra bundles.

It's bad enough taking on Cambridge Road fully tooled up and armed with a will of iron. The fact that I'm short of some essential items, and my enthusiasm for the project is waning fast, could count against me, I feel.

Have you seen the size of Cambridge Road? The people who live near the golf club are in a different time zone, for goodness sake!

In addition to this marathon, there's Houghton Gardens, Tower Court and Tower Road to think about. At least I'll have Karen Chesney, Marie Curie's community fundraising co-ordinator for Cambridgeshire, as company.

Not that Karen's any more enthusiastic than I am, I should point out. Her day's already got off to a bad start as she was forced to dress as a giant daffodil.

Ah, the things we do for recognition. Thankfully, we find a bag and trolley in the dusty confines of the back office. Off we go.

I had forgotten how lovely Houghton Gardens was. I was pondering this, and trying to push a newspaper through somebody's letterbox, when the door opened.

"Are you delivering the Ely Standard?"

"Er, yes."

"Could you not bother today?

"No problem, I won't worry this week then."


Further up Cambridge Road, an elderly lady. "Can you put one in at my house? I've not had one since two weeks before Christmas. But my neighbour two doors down always gets one."

Now I'm doing requests, it would seem. I trot up there regardless, and when I meet Karen on the way back, I find that she's been accosted by the same determined septuagenarian.

Karen has had to deal with a trolley with a mind of its own, so life's not been much easier for her. We're both freezing, tetchy, keen to get home. I don't think we can be blamed in any way for this. The opportunity to breathe fresh air is about the only positive which can be drawn from this experience. That, in itself, will no doubt be enough to encourage some sadistic mothers to foist a paper round on their offspring, while other, more resourceful, youngsters will see it as a way of earning pocket money and a chance to get fit.

I have a somewhat lethargic approach to fitness, as regular readers will know, so it wouldn't be my preferred option for shedding the pounds.

It feels good to be getting back into Karen's car. Warmth surrounds me like a comfort blanket. At no time has it occurred to me to find out how much those who deliver are paid, but I hope it's worth it.

When I get back to the office, the trolley and bag the distributors promised us earlier have arrived (naturally), as well as the extra bundle. These things are surely sent to try us. It almost makes wearing the daffodil costume seem like a reasonable option. Maybe next year...