You see, most visitors refuse to take this notice seriously:
Campaigners. Odd jobbers. Chancers. Passers-by.
Maybe some don't notice my notice.
Maybe some can't read.
Maybe some don't care.
Maybe some think "Me? I'm harmless! This can't apply to ME!"
So they march up and hammer at my door anyway.
If I'm lucky, they ring my bell, too.
It isn't so much a doorbell. It's more of a dumb-bell.
Its buzzer button is next to the side gate that leads into the back garden.
There's a narrow rectangular peephole in this gate that looks mysteriously like a letterbox. If somebody comes to the gate, they can peer through it and scry into the easternmost reaches of the conservatory. If I flatten myself against the back wall, just where the old back door now acts as a portal between original house and newer conservatory, I'm invisible to doorstep invaders. Saves the bother of a foil hat and dark glasses!
My doorbell isn't connected up to its voicebox any more.
Parts of its innards lie tucked away inside the little back utility room. In there, its ancient workings live above the washing machine, which disgorges fluffy water down its pipes and hoses through the wall into the drain that still dreams it's outside the back door. But that drain's actually inside the conservatory now. So when it pumps out its rinse-water, scented with camomile and jasmine, it fills the glass palace of morning light full of its sweetness.
The doorbell's jangly bits above the washer are in a little soundbox near what used to be a little window looking out onto the garden. These days if you want to see the garden from the utility room, you have to look through the conservatory first.
My doorbell, like me, isn't fit to function fully any more.
Charmingly, it continues to *look* like it does.
When I first moved in, I planned to repair it. Get some wire. Buy a battery. The usual technical stuff.
But I never had the heart for it.
Friends, after all, have twigged the basics of chronic illness after all these years. Real friends invariably check with me first, to make sure I'm prepared and well enough for a visit in person. In person can be exhausting and excruciating when you've got M.E. Friends know my health limits. They understand the energy it costs me to talk, make cuppas, have a slice of chocolate cake ready for sampling, bat words back and forth, laugh, enjoy a friend to the full. They know how drained and sick it may leave me later once they've left. They'll text or email first, to be sure I'm up to it, even for a short time. Because they care. They don't bang on the door at random times or ring the bell.
They know it doesn't, anyway. Ring, that is.
Quite simply, that's a little slice of heaven on this earth.
I sometimes open the door, on a good day when I'm able, when the postie knocks, or the meter reader, or the delivery courier, only to find them not standing outside the door, but further along the house wall, trying to look over the gate where they've just pressed the button. I frighten the shivering shenanigans out of them by appearing from behind them when they were just convincing themselves nobody was at home.
So, I love my doorbell.
Precisely because it doesn't do what's expected of it.
It takes the world by surprise.
But, thankfully, not me!