We don’t talk to many of our neighbours.
This isn’t as a consequence of a horrific fall out- although our building work of 18 months probably didn’t help our case- but it’s simply the fact that well, we’re all a bit old fashioned and couldn’t possibly drum up small talk when there’s eye contact avoidance and awkward smiles to be exchanged.
Jeff lives opposite. Now Jeff is probably the furthest away from wanting to join our fan club; when the builders had a huge pile of bricks delivered and subsequently scuffed Jeff’s kerb (I know, people don’t have their own kerbs in usual circumstances but after a rather long conversation where I discovered that you can pay to have a keen lowered, I can categorically state that people can own kerbs. Jeff says so) Jeff let me know. When we’ve been at work all day and come home to discover our parcels are at various different neighbours’ houses but never Jeff’s, because he’s now refusing to take them because you take so long to pick these bloody things up’ or when we had the cars cleaned and the dirty water ran into the street….. I won’t go on. Put simply, I believe that Jeff has had better neighbours and quite frankly, we do not make the cut. Middle boy doesn’t help by screaming up the street at Jeff’s dog of a morning, trying to manipulate the poor creature to come into our house- you’ve never seen anything quite so sinister- and Jeff’s morning visits to the paper shop have frequently been interrupted by my yawping as I do the barefoot-to-the-bin run, only to be met with Jeff’s judging stare.
Jeff has an abundance of bins. Because I work upstairs, and the side of Jeff’s house is visible from our bedroom window, I got pretty distracted the other day and counted them. There are 16 bins. What category level are you recycling to, to justify such bin use? He’s often spotted in a vest that would give the 118 guys a run for their money, sorting over what goes into which one. I wonder how such systems get created; how we move from the standard selection dictated by the council and evolve to our own, maverick bin count. You’ve got to admire the sheer rebellion of it. They’re not even wheelie ones, so God only knows how long the stuff sits in there. I’m not sure it counts as recycling when the contents haven’t actually been used since 1985.
Jeff usually has a lot of visitors. Difficult to tell what the dynamics are here- I’m no curtain twitcher, I have a job (save that pastime for retirement) – but I don’t think children, just many, many friends that bring food, go out for lunch, take a walk or spend a Saturday doing the front garden.
And you see, now, I only see Jeff on that morning walk, and because he doesn’t have a job or three children crawling over him like a pack of wolves of a morning, I often miss the look of disdain by the tine I get to the job of the bin-hop. So, I really hope I see Jeff soon, even if it’s just for the glance of judgement at my feet on the driveway, or to tell me that number 24 have had to take my parcels, or casting an indifferent eye over my children, even when they’re being deliberately cute. And when the shops open back up, I might buy something obscure to see which bin it ends up in.