Saturday, January 06, 2007

The fine art of paper selling

I hated paper selling. Reading this interview with the actor James Purefoy in today's Guardian magazine made me chuckle. Well, especially this bit:

"I sold the Socialist Worker outside Brixton tube," he laughs. How many papers did he sell per Saturday? "I was crap, absolutely useless".

As a once shiny bright-eyed bushy-tailed young cadre who sold papers years ago I too can relate to the words of comrade Purefoy. I was a sodding crap as well, absolutely useless. I couldn't sell my way out of a paper bag. It didn't exist in the organisation I was in but maybe there should be seminars on paper selling (could put one on at Marxism... "The Fine Art of Paper Selling: for beginners"). I just kinda thought it was a waste of time as what was the point of it? Building the organisation while increasing the profile at the same time? Do me a favour!

It always felt like ritual humiliation especially if your mates happened upon you selling the rag. Or selling in the miserable cold rainy weather with soggy papers and one time I remember selling in a fucking blizzard (my poor frost bitten fingers!). Oh yeah, and if anyone argues that it is a good way of engaging in the class struggle then I will say you are experiencing delusional behaviour, comrade, as most people usually run a mile at a sniff of a paper seller (though I am sure there are people who have had good and positive experiences....somewhere) And yeah, some are more prolific and enthusiastic than others.

But there is a kinda hierarchy of paper selling and it usually exposes where you are in the pecking order. Shouldn't all members sell the damn paper?

Even now when I spot a squabble of paper sellers (the new collective noun for paper sellers) part of me tries to shut them out though tempting as it to shout, "Fuck Off and leave me alone"! I am reminded of the days when I did it and hated it. So out of solidarity with the enthusiastic collective I buy one from all of the 57 varieties.