You love The Kooks? Me too! We should share bank details.

I’m going to talk about something I am not proud of. It’s something I think we all have to deal with, but we all address the problem in different ways. It takes up large portions of our time and, unfortunately, can be unavoidable in many situations. We face the problem when we least expect it, and most crucially of all, when we cannot be bothered.

Charity Street Collectors.

Yes, I know, they are there for a good cause. Charities like World Vision and The Cancer Council depend on the kindness of the public to raise funds to fight hunger and disease all around the world. There is just something about an overly chirpy stranger walking up to me on the street, starting a generic conversation about whatever band T-shirt I may be wearing then asking what my account number is two minutes later. It’s uncomfortable and a little awkward.

The general tactic that I use is the “avoidance at all costs” maneuver. Generally this involves crossing a street I didn’t need to cross, making a hasty change in direction, or, if all else fails, an abrupt about-turn. These moves are usually effective, but they require a crucial element – foresight. As I said before, these collectors are swift and cunning. They can appear out of nowhere. Streets these days like walking through the long grass in a Pokémon game (Wild charity collector appeared!). When this happens, your choices are limited. I always like to feign hurry – being late for a train or a bus proves rather effective. This usually means you have to add a little pace to your walk and maybe a few glances towards your watch. Other methods include the sudden phone call, or the “you guys caught me earlier!” line.

Sometimes, though, you get stuck in the conversation. You go along with it all, you nod when you deem it prudent, and then, when it comes time to the moment when you have to bring out your bankcard, you start making excuses.

“Oh sorry I don’t have it on me right now”

“I really don’t feel comfortable handing out my details”

“I have no money”

They always have a response, though. Sometimes they can call up your bank, many times they guilt you out of it (It’s just the cost of a coffee a day!), or they use the ever popular “but you can cancel any time!” Most of the time, though, they just talk to you long enough so that you eventually give in. Whether you sign up or not, you leave the encounter feeling overly guilty, or, you have fifteen dollars leaving your already unimpressive bank account every week.

Now obviously, I will not say that these collectors are doing anything to hurt anyone seriously. They are warriors in a noble cause. Thick-skinned beyond belief and trained to deal with the harshest that humanity can throw. It is just the overly up front and in-your-face approach that I find uncomfortable. If it were just a one-off donations system, I would more than happily donate ten dollars or so to an important cause. But considering I am just a mere student living off ten hours of retail work a week, I don’t have much to give up on a regular basis.

So, until I earn enough money to regularly donate, I’m going to be walking the long way round to the bus stand at Central station.

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“The Hundred Year Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared” (Novel) by Jonas Jonasson

 

“The Hundred Year Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared”, by Jonas Jonasson, may have a rather complicated title, but it is not a complicated novel. The story follows Allan Karlsson, who is – you guessed it – a hundred year old man who escapes from his centennial birthday party via a window. We then follow his story as he finds himself involved with thieves, incompetent police, a suitcase filled with cash and a series of murders, some of which are more accidental than others. Along side the tale we learn that Karlsson had spent his earlier life involved with some of the 20th century’s most significant people and important events – everything from the creation of the atom bomb, to having dinner with Stalin himself.

I have heard many novels and films described as “charming” but I’ve never strictly understood its true meaning. Jonasson’s debut novel, however, can only be described as such. An endless stream of witty dialogue and engaging an engaging story keeps you entertained from cover to cover. There are moments where it gets so funny you may find yourself laughing enough to make an elderly woman come and ask if you are okay (I may or may not be speaking from experience).

It isn’t a novel that you will regret.

DISTINCTION