Everyone has their own opening line for a death knock.
I quite like a bit of semi-sincere contrition - before I ask for a picture of their dead baby.
Make like I don't want to be there. And the truth is I mostly don't.
I must have doorstepped hundreds of grieving families and it still doesn't get any less nerve-wracking as I crunch up the gravel repeating the deceased's name over and over in my head so I don't blurt out the wrong one.
I still remember my first and I play over in my mind, on occasion, the very worst.
When I was freelancing every job seemed to be a death knock. I used to joke to people I met outside of work that if I ever came to their door with a smile and a handshake it meant someone in their family had just been fucked up.
That initial feeling of dread as you approach the knock never leaves, however. Will there be tears, smiles or threats. Will they understand I am doing my job or decide I have personally affronted them and unleash the hounds.
Some swear or abuse me, calling me 'scum' , others welcome me in and get the teas on. You can never tell which reaction you will get.
I once got chased by one guy in his car for about five miles after he beat up my snapper. And his son had only been blinded.
My 'favourite' death knocks are the one where you have talked the relative round and, just as they are peeling open the family album, the spouse comes home and goes spastic mental.
I have been tossed many a time. I now try to retain hold of the collect as I am physically thrown from the homestead.
It's a part of the job I dislike, but there is no greater feeling than walking away from the house quotes in your notebook and pic in paw knowing full well you just scooped everyone in town.
In a completely unrepresentative survey, I do find that families living in less salubrious areas tend to be a bit more forthcoming and open than the wealthy who are often the most abusive.
Women tend to be more polite than men, and parents seem to want to talk more about death through illness than those lost to violence or accident. Presumably they have had longer to come to terms with it.
I have only been hit twice during this job. Both on death knocks. I took the punches and considered them a form of involuntary penance.
I have come to terms with performing death knocks but, even after all these years and all those slammed doors, I still can't fully justify them to myself.
We claim that we are writing a tribute to the dear departed. Generally horse shit.
We say that it is cathartic for the family to talk of their loss. Crap.
We believe there is a public interest in knocking on a family's door shortly after their son/daughter was blown up in a terrorist attack. Bollocks.
We want to launch an appeal against guns/knives/leukaemia/death in general. Lies.
In reality we tell the family's anything to get through the door - to get a bit of background, a smiley picture, a grieving family shot - just so your nib becomes a down page, your lead becomes the splash.
You basically want a story and the dead scout's family is the best opportunity this week.
I am happy with this.
I am not saying the resultant story can not be something of value.
Be it a tearful appeal for a son's killer to come forward or a plea for funds to save other little crack babies.
Some death knocks forge relationships with the family and the reporter that can last years.
And this is why we do them across the country day in, day out.
But I can't pretend that the initial death knock is nothing more than cold calling for a tale.
Some you win, some you lose.
But there is no lofty ideal behind it.