Neighbourly feelings


The community spirit is welling within my breast these days. It’s always been there, of course, but lately, and in two locations, It’s become what oil prospectors might call a gusher. The people around my little houseen and an old friend from primary school who has returned to the village and moved in a few doors down are taking up much of my attention in Wiltshire, and then in London, where people are more circumspect, I have been meeting neighbours the traditional way: under cover of the misdirected parcel.

That’s how I met Colin from across the road, a relationship that has been reinforced by my landlord, whom I suspect of having a slight boy crush on Colin, particularly after the panicky phone call – ‘Colin! Thank God! Have you got a small angle-grinder?’ – that resulted in such damage to the kitchen floor. Anyway, the first gossamer threads of acquaintance were spun after Colin took in a parcel of mine a few months back. I returned the next morning with a gift of plums (themselves part of a gift from Cyril four doors down) and that, along with DIY SOS, was enough to seal the deal.

Last night I passed the favour on by dealing with four ENORMOUS packages that had been delivered to us on account of next door being out. The lightest was 19kg, and addressed to a ‘Harry’ so I went round and left a note. No sign of anyone, but as Tomasz Schafernaker finished telling the nation to wrap up warm, there were telltale thumpings through the wall. Round I beetled once more. The door was answered by a larky young sprig in tracky bottoms and a vest cut in such a way that an evening at the gym was in the front of my mind. I explained that this ‘Harry’ was welcome to collect the parcels but as the heaviest was 27kg, I couldn’t help. Not a problem – suddenly an even more strapping gym bunny filled the doorway and blocked the light. ‘Oh, my,’ I may have squeaked. And then, dammit, yet another vested vision materialized, this one from the kitchen. Now, I’m not really a fan of the ripped gym-boy, and I have long outgrown the 20-something, but heavens to Betsy and lawks a mercy, sometimes you just get caught by surprise.

Off I scuttled, down their path and up mine, having ordered the-lads-too-young-to-remember-Communism to put on shoes because they’d catch their deaths (oh, well done me). And round they came, like a load of marines, in their straining singlets, to pick up the heavy packages and present me with a bottle of wine. It was dark enough to hide my rosy glow but not dark enough to hide the simper. Still, at least I didn’t giggle. Oh God, I didn’t giggle, did I?


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