To Be Frank, Frank Edmons, june 2, 2015

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The Better Half hadn’t long settled down for a nice Sunday afternoon nap, when the doorbell went. Tsk! Always happens! Never mind.

It was a young lady wearing a black body-warmer with what appeared to be a St John Ambulance logo on it, and who was carrying, not a clipboard – oh, you dinosaur! – but a portable tablet. No, I mean something like an iPad, not an aspirin – although I was to end up with a headache, it’s true.

She said her name was Charlie, and quickly flashed an ID card (they’re always flashed quickly, aren’t they?), which indeed gave her name as Charlotte. Bright, engaging and enthusiastic, she proceeded to tell me about a campaign she said St John were running, to get first aid taught to youngsters at school.

Did I have any children? Grandchildren? Well this isn’t exactly subtle, but yes, I get it – you mean our little granddaughter could be learning life-saving skills, and how good is that? Well, very good, I agree.

Charlie also wanted to know how old I was, and what my job was ... hmm, not sure why do you need to know that, exactly. She’ll cut to the chase in a minute. And sure enough, they were seeking funding.

Well, at this point, it did all seem par for the course for a charity appeal. Even if, on reflection, and with the miracle of hindsight, no actual literature had been produced, which might seem a trifle odd. But the cause was undoubtedly a good one.

So I was happy enough to give my name and address. Well, from my doorstep, the latter was fairly obvious. But then Charlie wanted my bank details. Whoa! Steady on! But Charlie was insistent. If I wasn’t prepared to give my account number and sort code, there and then, to someone I’d been talking to for all of five minutes, well, she’d just have to scrub the whole thing. If that was meant to be emotional blackmail, it certainly didn’t work. I wouldn’t have minded a follow-up phone call maybe, but my bank details? No way, José! Sorry, I mean Charlie.

The following morning I rang St John Ambulance. An automated system put me through to another centre, I know not where.

They expressed concern – well, mildly – and said they didn’t know if such a campaign was running in my area or not, but they’d make inquiries, and get back to me. By the end of the following day, no one had. So was this for real? If so, is it reasonable to demand bank details on the doorstep?

Or ... was I just being taken for a proper Charlie?