Nottingham Knockers: the conundrum of trusting the Universe in a world where not everyone got the ‘we are all one’ memo.

If you’re a regular to my blog you’ll know I have a generally optimistic view of the world.  I’ve always preferred to err on the side of giving people the benefit of the doubt, but on a few occasions this has led me into situations where my trust was misplaced and I’ve paid the price.

As I’ve aged, I’ve retained my general optimism and belief that most people are essentially good, but I am also not totally immune to the fact there are people in this world who mean harm to others (I was a Probation Officer in a former life).  Eckhart Tolle calls these people ‘unconscious’ rather than ‘bad’ and there’s an understanding that we can never truly know why someone behaves the way they do if we haven’t lived their life, but it doesn’t change the fact that bad things happen everywhere because some people do terrible or amoral things.

On being duped

There was one occasion years back when a couple were selling charity raffle tickets in a market square. I bought a few, but something wasn’t quite right about their demeanour, or the raffle tickets.  Radar raised, I went to the local charity shop and asked if they had any collectors out selling raffle tickets, they did not.  They checked with their Headquarters and they didn’t either. The couple had moved on when I walked back through the square but I reported the incident to the police.  It wasn’t a nice feeling to be duped out of even a small amount of money and I felt something was off at the time of the transaction, but my desire to believe in the genuineness of people and give to charity meant I didn’t question it.  Whilst I admittedly felt gullible, I also wondered what kind of lives the ticket sellers must have had to make them exploit a charity to get money? Could I ever find myself in such a situation?

The Nottingham Knockers

Which brings me to this week’s test of my trusting capacity: Nottingham knockers (no, they’re not lions made of brass or regional breast implants).  A young man with a large duffle bag slung over his shoulder knocked on my door and showed me a tattered card that said he was selling cleaning products as part of a programme to get ex-offenders back into work, could he show me what he had for sale?   He was very polite and I was very polite in saying no thank you, and he went on his way.  Queue an attack of the guilts: I should’ve bought something, he’s trying to turn his life around and I believe in that, I should’ve given him a chance…and yet the Probation Officer in me knows it’s very unlikely that Criminal Justice Agencies or services connected to them would do a back to work scheme that involved door-to-door sales, so I did a little detective work and found similar information about doorstep salesman called ‘Nottingham Knockers’ on a number of regional police and news websites:

What are ‘Nottingham Knockers’?
Door-to-door traders who try to sell goods on the doorstep, often cheap household items. They are dropped off early in the morning in a particular area and will knock on doors all day. They will often be very charming and claim to be just released from prison on a rehabilitation scheme trying to make a better life for themselves or their family. They may show you ID. This will be false as this type of selling is not part of any recognised rehabilitation scheme. The government-backed Community Payback scheme does not involve door-to-door sales.
What is the issue?
The conmen will cover a number of streets looking for a vulnerable victim they can scam. From their conversation and the response of the resident, they can often ascertain how much cash is in a property. Police say streets being targeted by the Nottingham Knockers often see an increase in distraction burglaries.
They say those going door-to-door often have long extensive criminal histories and anyone who gives them money may find themselves the target of other scams including rogue builders and other such groups.
How to respond to Nottingham Knockers
Thames Valley Police want you to share a simple message with anyone trying to sell goods on your doorstep:
“We do not buy or sell anything at the door.”

Sounds suspiciously like my gentleman caller.

Now I do know that internet news articles aren’t always accurate, are often geared up for scare-mongering and that there’s a chance this guy may have genuinely wanted to sell me some Mr Muscle shower cleaner, but it’s important for me to be aware that his motives could also be otherwise.  This raises a conflict in me: how can I open my heart to the world and trust the Universe has my back and yet still look at people through the lens of suspicion?

Maybe I’m not always as trusting as I think

I don’t think of suspicion as my default, but this isn’t the first situation recently that’s had my Spidey-senses tingling:

I was hanging out with some friends at a friend’s house last weekend.  I borrowed a car to make the trip and my Dad was keen for me not to park said (very nice) car on the street during my visit, presumably because street parking in cities is more risky than my usual country bumpkin abode.  So I got there early and snagged a driveway spot and my other friends parked on the street.  Over a cuppa our discussion turned to my street parking peculiarities and local crime in the area.  My friend was telling me about cars on her parents street a mile or so away being broken into and how her husband had his gym bag stolen from the boot of his car while picking up the kids from school (we weren’t sure what the perp’s would do with his sweaty shorts and socks, but it takes all sorts).  The discussion moved into darker realms of people being robbed and murdered in their own homes, when I happened to glance up through the living room window towards my friend’s car parked on the street and saw a man on the street stop, turn intentionally towards the car and pull up his hood. My gut took control; I shouted, ‘what the hell is he doing?!’ or something along those lines.  We all jumped up and my friend banged on the window.  He turned around, not impressed and muttered that he was just pulling up his hood, before walking off.

Then we had something to really talk about…was he interested in something in the car and about to try the door handle, or smash a window?  My friend said she’d left a charging cable on display which could have made it appear there was a mobile phone in the armrest of the car, was he trying his luck for that?  Or was he just a hapless guy checking himself out in the car window, and being death stared by a group of angry women was the price he had to pay for his vanity?  In the moment, I felt he was ‘up to no good,’ but had I been primed to think that because of all the conversations about car robberies and house robberies and the pitfalls of street parking we’d been having? 

The answer is, I don’t know, and I suppose I’ll never know, same with my doorstep salesmen.  All a person can do is go with their best guess at the time, but to remember this is always informed by the types of things we see/hear/read/discuss, and try to be aware of when our judgement might be clouded.  It’s not an easy or straightforward task, and there will always be times we’ll get it wrong.  I hope I was wrong on these occasions: that the doorstep knocker was genuinely trying to make an honest quid; that the man walking down the street was on his way to meet a hot date, when he felt a cold breeze tickle his ears and stopped in front of a car window to put his hood up and check he didn’t have any muesli stuck in his teeth.

Photo by Chris F on

There are always lessons to be learned

Just because I trust the Universe, it doesn’t mean bad things won’t happen. 

Peter Crone says life will present you with people and circumstances to show you where you are not free, this includes challenging situations and people. 

For me, I think the Universe (or life, if you don’t go in for the woo-woo jazz) is trying to teach me boundaries, to stand up for myself and to follow my own intuition, which may sometimes deem a situation or person to be unsafe.  I’ve been notoriously bad at drawing boundaries in the past and have been a chronic people pleaser, which has led to some crazy situations I’ll save for another day, but I’m getting much better as I grow into trusting myself.  All I can do is continue to trust my intuition, try to reserve judgement where possible and in a situation that calls for immediate action, go with my gut with the best of intentions. If things aren’t always as they first appeared, I will be ready and willing to admit I was wrong and learn from that.

A final word to the hood guy

Hood guy, it you’re reading this and you were genuinely checking yourself out in the window of a parked car with no ill intent, please accept my humble apology, I hope you’ve gained a little context for the situation…and whilst I hate to encourage mobile phone use, maybe try using your phone as a mirror like everyone else to avoid future misunderstandings?  Thanks.

It’s been a while… I had something akin to a blogging existential crisis…what’s it all for, where’s it all going, should I post more, post less, find a niche, when will inspiration return? Thankfully I’m over myself and re-inspired…though I am flirting with the idea of a Substack, has anyone else flirted with different platforms? Or are blogging platforms like old-school monogamous marriages: you die with the one you’ve committed to?

4 thoughts on “Nottingham Knockers: the conundrum of trusting the Universe in a world where not everyone got the ‘we are all one’ memo.

  1. We used to get kids at the door who were working for adults who’d drop the kids off at the entrance of the subdivision. The kids would go door to door trying to get you to buy candles while the adults nosed around the subdivision getting a feel for the layout of the place– where they might, and did, break into homes. Covid put an end to that because we were all home all the time. Still I like the “We do not buy or sell anything at the door” philosophy and will try to remember it should I need it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh no, it’s even worse when kids are involved.
      I’m thinking of investing in a window sticker that declares we don’t buy on the doorstep, my friend said she has one and it deters people from knocking and disturbing her while she’s working.

      Liked by 1 person

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