Contender ready? Gauntlet running is about to begin

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There used to be a game on the 1990s hit TV show Gladiators called Gauntlet.

Keep-fit fanatics would pull on their sweat-bands to run through an alley patrolled by muscly glamazons.

Wolf, Trojan, Saracen and co would arm themselves with padded sticks and batter the living daylights out of a contender as they tried – usually in vain – to make it from one end to the other. Oh how I loved that programme.

Sadly, it’s been off our screens for a while but don’t fret – there’s a version of Gauntlet being played on a high street near you. The pugil sticks are now clipboards but the theory’s still the same.

A recent trip to Gosport’s High Street brought me into close contact with one set of market researchers and another set of charity collectors. And, as they strategically placed themselves a few metres apart in the centre of the precinct, it really did feel like we were about to play our own game of Gauntlet.

Now, I always wanted to go on Gladiators. But I’m older and unfitter than I was when it was on TV and my days of ducking and diving are long gone.

So I braced myself for the impending approach with a polite smile. Well-established armour (including a face that could sour lemons) usually means I only have to say ‘no thanks’ once.

But every now and again you meet a bouncy individual who won’t get the hint. You don’t want to be rude but, as they match their step to yours, it soon becomes annoying. Especially if you know you’ll need to run the gauntlet again to get back to your office.

I know these people are only doing their jobs but do their bosses still believe this tactic works? I’ve never signed up to support a charity in this way, or allowed my personal details to be taken from a stranger with a rehearsed line in patter. And I resent being made to justify why I won’t stop to a bloke I don’t know who thinks calling me darlin’ will loosen my resolve.

Part of their training must involve coating them with Teflon. How else do they deal with the constant rejection?

One or two I can cope with, but when there’s more collectors than shops, you’re in trouble. And sadly, that’s often how Gosport feels.