Malarkey is Andy Clarke, a creative designer with a passion for accessibility and web standards. This is his personal website.

An apology to salesmen

An open apology to all sales-people adversely affected by recent columns.

Dear Salesmen,

Please accept my heart-felt apologies for potentially causing you so many wasted sales calls. I understand that you have a very difficult job to do and it must be very frustrating indeed to telephone a household in good faith, only to be told that,

My Mummy has the painters in at the moment… (Ed: Brit gag, sorry)
We are currently in a prayer meeting…
Mr. Malarkey is in prison for armed robbery, can you call back in 15 years?
We’re dedicated to the fall of Capitalism… (for investment companies)
I’m sorry, this is a launderette…

I understand that you are only doing your job and I must say how pleased I am when I hear a real human voice, rather than a recorded message. I also very much regret…

Telling the mobile phone salesman that we didn’t have any company cellphones, as Stuff and Nonsense is the UK’s largest manufacturer of mega-phones. We give a mega-phone to all our staff… (cue shouting…)

Telling the salesman from CheaperTelecom that I was the regional manager for British Telecom and didn’t want to switch from BT…


Asking the salesman from a local competitor (who didn’t realise who he was calling) to look at our web site… (imagine his surprise!)

I hope to speak to you again very, very soon. :P

Kind regards,

Col. A. Malarkey cGI, pHP, xML (Hons)
Commander of Her Majesty’s Forces (Iraq)
P.O. Box 851848
Basra, Iraq, Middle East, The World…

(Ed: Now that really is that!)


  1. #1 On January 24, 2005 03:40 PM Graham Bancroft said:

    I’m sure cold callers deserve more recognition.

    But what about the nice people who call to see if “you’ve got a spare 5 minutes” to take part in a survey?

    Surely they should get a mention.

  2. #2 On January 24, 2005 04:19 PM Colly said:

    "My Mummy has the painters in at the moment…"

    Ha-ha-ha!!! Is that really only an English gag?

  3. #3 On January 24, 2005 04:25 PM Paul Nattress said:

    Caller: "Are you interested in double-glazed windows?"

    Me: "No, we just bought a house and it came with windows thank you."

  4. #4 On January 24, 2005 04:30 PM Malarkey said:

    @ Colly:
    "My Mummy has the painters in at the moment…" Is that really only an English gag?

    I think so… any non-Brits know what it means? :P

  5. #5 On January 24, 2005 04:42 PM Toby S. said:

    Opening the door to a supermarket surveyor was a bad idea. "A few minutes", yeah, and my mother had a 14 inch beard with a buzz lightyear tatoo on her cheek! I was standing in my hall-area for 27 minutes. Only when I fell asleep (standing up) did she leave.

    Oh well, I hope she noticed the big stack of Sainsbury’s carrier bags by the front door and got her answers from that.

    PS: Great series.

  6. #6 On January 24, 2005 04:49 PM Marcel Fahle said:

    > any non-Brits know what it means? :P

    Nope :-/
    (germany ;-))

  7. #7 On January 24, 2005 05:56 PM Keith Bell said:

    > any non-Brits know what it means? :P

    When I lived in Gothenburg, a Swedish girl of my acquaintance once told me she "had the painters in". Back at her flat, I expected to see half-painted walls, rollers, brushes, and gallon tins of vinyl matt. But no such thing. Turned out she really did "have the painters in". She was also familiar with "Arsenal playing at home".

    I leave any explanation to non-Brits to you, Andy. Far too indelicate a topic for someone of my sensitivities…    ;o)

  8. #8 On January 24, 2005 06:26 PM Steve said:

    Does this apology mean you are hanging up your comedy hat and are intending to be quietly receptive to whatever the nice salespeople have to offer?

    I normally go for a rather pathetic ’can you send me some more information’, although the other day my Bank phoned me (you have to listen to the bank eh?) to offer me some insurance type thing.

    I listen to the guys patter & mistakenly said it sounded interesting, can you send me more information. He informed me that he couldn’t send me any information, but when I signed up for the service, I would receive a full information pack.

    Needless to say I pointed out how ridiculous that sounded & told him I wasn’t allowed to sign up for anything unless my Mummy had given it the once over, so unfortunately I would be unable to take advantage of this great offer.

    I then hung up before he asked to speak to her!!

  9. #9 On January 24, 2005 06:40 PM Chandra said:

    "any non-Brits know what it means? "

    would it be similar to the "milk man" or "cole man" reference in Canada? ;P

  10. #10 On January 24, 2005 09:11 PM Andrew Hume said:

    Ahh… I always guessed you were an alright sort of chap really Malarkey.

    All your naughtiness lately has been most of out of character: you’ve even scared John off it seems. Poor lad.

    @Keith: I’m a Londoner, lived in Islington for a few years and got a good few seasons at Higbury under my belt. Never came across,"Arsenal playing at home". Love it though!

  11. #11 On January 24, 2005 10:01 PM John Oxton said:

    Nah! Malarkey doens’t scare me but ya know the Missus has the decorators in (possibly a regional variant) and that is more than any one man was designed to handle! ;-)

  12. #12 On January 24, 2005 10:04 PM Malarkey said:

    @ John Oxton: Good to see you’re not quite finished with your computer just yet!

  13. #13 On January 24, 2005 10:04 PM Chris Gwynne said:

    @ Malarkey.

    I understand it, but I live in Wales. I’m Welsh, not a Brit. ;-)

  14. #14 On January 24, 2005 10:09 PM John Oxton said:

    I am Welsh also but luckily the home office accepted my pleas for asylum.

    Though as I remember it Wales is still, technically at least, a part of the British Isles.

  15. #15 On January 24, 2005 11:27 PM Andrew Krespanis said:

    You are completely mad with power.

    Long live the King! :P

  16. #16 On January 25, 2005 07:33 AM Arno said:

    OK, for the non-Brits who don’t understand the term, see

  17. #17 On January 25, 2005 09:41 AM Gazzer said:

    My own personal variation on the theme when called at home is to tell the salesperson I am really interested in what they are selling and would love to talk about it.

    Then I tell them this is not a good time for me, but if they give me their home number I will call on Sunday at about 9:30pm and they will have my undivided attention.

    Some get it immediately, apologise and hang up. Some actually point out that I have no right to ask for their private number and force me to explain!

  18. #18 On January 25, 2005 09:42 AM howie said:

    As a Brit curently living in Sydney, I’d completely forgotten those delightful phrases about `the painters` and `Arsenal playing at home`. They’re certainly not used down-under. My friend often refers to `the red robin visiting`. I did a quick search on urban dictionary and found this rather scary and comepletley unrelated entry!

    Loved the salesman series. Reminds me of the time my friend secretly filled in one of those freepost cards from the weekend paper. I received a visit from a salesman selling skylights/roof windows. I don’t think he was too amused on arrival, as he discovered I lived in the downstairs flat!

    Been reading your blog for a while and really enjoy it. I’ll try to get to the media conference when I return to the UK. Is anyone planning to talk about web design for applications rather than sites?
    W seem to be an under-represented and sizeable segment of the workforce.

  19. #19 On January 25, 2005 02:23 PM Colly said:

    Andy, you must be pleased that this thread has turned into a discussion about menstruation. Smashing. Glad I did my bit to coax that one along…

  20. #20 On January 26, 2005 12:34 AM Jules said:

    Heard an expression the other day (cover your eyes if you are offended) and Malarkey, cut this if you find it inappropriate.

    What about "straddling the vampire’s tea bag"?

  21. #21 On January 26, 2005 12:41 AM Malarkey said:

    (Ed: OK, OK… enough of the menstruation gags! This is a respectable joint I keep here… ;)

  22. #22 On January 29, 2005 09:33 AM Malarkey said:

    BTW: I got a phone call at work yesterday…

    Hello, can I speak to Mr. Clarke? I understand you buy all the stationery for Stuff and Nonsense

    (Cue launch into the ’we don’t use stationery’ gags…)

    Turns out it was Mr. Budd playing silly buggers… just you wait matey… ;)

  23. #23 On February 1, 2005 02:16 PM john said:

    It doesn’t take them long to find you…
    Isolated Louisiana town finally gets telephone service .
    Key quote:
    It didn’t take resident Elaine Edwards long to find out that having a phone can be a mixed blessing. Fifteen minutes after hers was installed, a telemarketer called.

  24. #24 On February 1, 2005 09:52 PM dave said:

    I once told a SPRINT telemarketer that I didn’t have a phone.