No, I am not talking about the Australian soap opera which started the careers of Kylie Minogue and Jason Donavan but about the neighbours in your street.
There is a saying that you can choose your friends but not your family. I think the same applies with neighbours. Some are very friendly and you can have a good relationship with them while others might pass you in the street with not so much as a hello. I have lived in eight flats and houses so far and therefore I have a little experience in this matter.
At the moment the house next door has new tenants moving in. I sincerely hope they are not as noisy as the last family. They had an extremely large dog, a Rottweiler I think, who they left alone all day. The poor dog howled on and off after they had gone and kept it up until they came home. The walls between the two houses are paper thin so I could hear him all the time. When they asked if he was being noisy while they were out I rather cowardly said no because I didn’t want to fall out with them.
The new family put up fences everywhere when they moved in and I dreaded another enormous dog. Happily it turned out that they only have two small children. Amazingly loud shrieks and giggles rent the air as they are playing in their garden but hey ho that is not a problem for me, I don’t mind at all.
I once owned a ground floor flat with quite a large garden. The tree at the end was desperately needed pruning so I called in the tree surgeons who said that certain branches should be lopped off. As they started one of the children next door came out to see what was happening. I leant over the wall and said he should be careful not to go to the end of his garden in case a branch might fall on him. At this point the mother yelled to him “Go where you like son, if you are hit by one of those branches we shall sue the stupid woman next door”. I was flabbergasted but this was just the beginning.
Quite why the woman loathed me I shall never know. I didn’t have my music turned up full volume. I did not have parties that lasted well into the night. In fact my neighbour upstairs made a lot more noise than me but she did not feel the full force of hatred that came from the woman next door.
Nowadays if you sell a house and fail to report that you have problems with your neighbours you can be sued. As it was I sold my flat to a nice young couple. When they asked about the neighbours I said the girl upstairs was very nice and on one side were a very cheery family. However I didn’t mention the horrible people on the other side.
I am not proud to own up to lying by omission but hoped that perhaps the neighbours from hell would like them. I did pass the couple in the street a few months later and they told me how pleased they were with the flat, so that was good.
In another flat that I bought the neighbours were really very friendly. The chap who lived on the floor beneath me was always happy to lend me a screwdriver or hammer although he always had a rather worried look when he handed them over. Whether he was worried about me or his tools I never knew and didn’t like to ask!
The two chaps who lived in the basement flat were just superb. I had purchased a beautiful pair of boots that I could pull on but not pull off. I lost count of the times that I went to see them and ask them to free my feet! If it were not for them the boots would have been thrown away.
The house I live in now is on a tiny street. I know six of the neighbours well and we get along like a house on fire. Of course I am happy to help them. I go and water their plants when they are on holiday and they do mine. And some of us have even given each other our spare keys, which is handy as I am always losing mine!
However we are all taken aback by the new occupants of one of the houses. The chap who bought it came over and introduced himself. I felt obliged to ask him in for a tea or coffee but he said he would prefer a glass of wine!
I discovered that in just a few short weeks since he moved in he knows all about the occupants of the street. There was a terrible fire three houses along from me and tragically the young man living there was killed. Paul (for that is the name of my new best neighbour) remarked that he knew that I was away when the fire happened because he hadn’t seen me in my garden. Blimey what else is he going to spot? Not that I lead a wild life, in fact to him I must be rather boring.
Anyhow during the half an hour he sat drinking my wine he offered to take any rubbish I had to the dump. He does mean well so I tossed this over in my mind and accepted his offer. In return as I don’t have a car I told him he could park in my driveway.
When I went to live in a small village in France I heard that once a year there were street parties. The mayor very kindly providing the tables and chairs and everyone pitched in. Each of the women brought a dish of sweet or savoury food,and the men came with bottles of wine and a couple of guitars.
Shortly after I moved into my house there was a knock on my door with an invitation to join the party. I didn’t have any food to offer but I was told it didn’t matter but I should bring my own plate, knife and fork. It was a splendid way to meet all my neighbours and was such fun that we only finished at 3am!
It was such a good idea that I might see if anyone in my street would be interested in a street party. I do hope so.