Neighbourly Love

Trying to stave off the boredom inbetween jobs is rather difficult when you don’t have too many friends.

But good neighbours can become good friends, right?

Well… they can. I’ve seen over the years how my mum effortlessly makes contact with neighbours and ends up best friends with some of them, good friends to others. She is a true professional.

The rest of us struggle a bit. These days, people aren’t really supposed to get on with their neighbours. Indeed, they’re not even supposed to know who they are.

I live in a close of 16 houses. We should, really, be a very good community. It’s the perfect thing for it. Almost everyone encounters each other at some point during the week. We are a cul-de-sac, so we can have a common enemy, and a common bond. We have shared driveways, and there are a few families with children who spread themselves across the close, especially during these summer months. It should be a good spirit.

It isn’t.

Out of the 16 houses, one of them is mine. So there are 15 sets of neighbours, potentially. I know two of them. Others I have seen. Some of them will say hello. Others will ignore you and give you snotty looks. At least, that’s how it seems. My housemate, way more extraverted than I am, often says hello to them, and he gives me a running report on the responses he gets. It’s really not good at all.

We are such bad neighbours now, in large swathes of the country. We’re just too suspicious. We think we can’t possibly trust this stranger, and it’s even worse because they live right on top of us. Who knows what they’re doing behind those twitching net curtains. They might even be spying on us.

In my experience it takes a common problem to break down those barriers. There needs to be some excuse for people to meet with each other. Whether that’s a dodgy paving flag, a pothole, a broken streetlight, a break in, some vandalism… it’s only when these things happen to do we let down our guard sufficiently to think we might just possibly need some help.

It’s happened with one of my neighbours. I helped her with a PC problem, and since then we’ve got to know each other very well. Sadly, she’s about 30 years older than me. Her husband is also very nice. We’re now very good neighbours, helping each other with stuff, taking deliveries for each other… and I’ve even cadged a lift a couple of times, which is always muchly appreciated.

It’s good for me, as it’s at least provided me with some social encounters beyond the usual with my business and my slightly annoying housemate. And now, such is the nature of how much I’ve impressed, I have secured the inevitable dinner invitation. Except, it was for today. And I’m currently on a train heading North. So I’m going to miss a barbecue. Perhaps for the best, given my vegetarianism. Very fortunate, even. I’m such an obsessive over cross-contamination…

But it just goes to show… I bet there are more people in the close I could make good friends with. If only we’d all let ourselves free a little…


I don’t know when I became such a bore. Or maybe I don’t know because there never was a moment.

Of course, that’s it.

There never was a moment because I’ve always been a bore.

As one of life’s introverts, going out and doing stupid stuff, or saying stupid stuff to people, or just generally being an up-front arse as has never appealed to me. I look at extroverts, whenever I actually venture out the house, and laugh. How pathetic they are, I sneer, as they desperately try to notch up more love from their social circle. I, on the other hand, do not need such approval.

Sort of.

In recent days, my brain has been getting totally fed up with who I am. Again. I go through this identity crisis on a semi-regular basis, and I just wish it would stop. I am who I am already, and nothing I have ever done, or could ever do, has been or will be able to change that. Sadly.

But that argument just never sinks in. It can’t. I am so desperately unhappy with myself that it drives me to tears. I’ve just spent the weekend with precisely zero social interaction, caused by a combination of useless friends, no opportunities to make new ones, and family being unable to speak to me, despite it being Father’s Day.

I wish I knew what I could do to change this situation. I spend my whole life these days worrying about something or other. If it’s not worrying about business, it’s worrying about my social life. And if it’s not that, it’s my utter lack of any kind of confidence that any of it will change. Or worrying about my family, and ageing, and a whole shedload more.

In summary, I am a huge ball of anxieties.

I can see the grey hairs on my head. I’m age 24. I suppose I should count my chickens, as a couple of former friends (former because they have ignored me now for several months) already have the beginnings of an egg in the nest. Not quite so bad here, but receding hairline is indeed obvious, and the grey hairs are increasing in number.

I stress myself out about my life, and about everything. I wish I could relax and enjoy some free time, but I can’t. I feel like I should be doing something, all the time. And when I’m not, I feel guilty.

None of this is any good, and it has to stop. But it won’t, because I can’t make it. I can’t change myself. It’s too late for that. Personality is a stubborn thing, and mine has been stubborn since I first realised I was such a loner, such a withdrawn and insecure individual in Year 7 of secondary school.

And yet people always say how nice I am.

There’s something really wrong with me.

Perhaps the only thing wrong with me is me.

I don’t know if any of this made any sense. I guess it wasn’t meant to.

Personality, Schmersonality

As a result of my self-imposed moratorium for not going on about my business, my posting rate collapsed. Well, it has collapsed anyway since the past year, mainly because nothing truly interesting seems to happen in my life these days. But here goes nothing…

Last week, at least I think it was last week, I spent some time watching the BBC’s Child of our Time series. It’s something I’ve never missed an episode of, and I’ve enjoyed every minute of it over the last 10 years. The concept of following someone from birth to adulthood is extremely interesting to me, and it has taught me a lot. OK, I couldn’t list any of that right now, but I know it has!

In any event, the most recent season, if you can call two episodes a season, was based around the work of a huge personality test the BBC has been pushing over the last year. Here is what I got:

Basically, I’m turning into a right old misery.

Personality tests are, of course, a huge potential for bullshit obscured with scientific lingo. But I especially like this one, because it looked a bit like there was some rigour to it, but also because, as graphs go, it is me all over.

The test defined openness as a measure of creativity, and of lateral thinking. I actually thought I’d do poorly on this scale, as I always feel like I have no good ideas at all. But maybe I’m doing something right. In any case, the graph is relative to the population, so perhaps I’m more creative than most.

Low levels of extroversion didn’t surprise me at all. I am a bore, and very comfortable with my own company, or that of close friends, not craving the need for approval of the group. But I feel this changing a little. I’m pretty lonely these days, and desperate times may call for desperate measures.

Agreeableness… yep, that is me too. I’ve become more cynical as time goes by, and definitely more “hostile” to people in the sense that I’m becoming embarrassingly aloof. I’m too much of a nerd. I try to stop myself from looking down on others, but I can’t help it.

Conscientiousness… I can vouch for that. Look at the past 5.5 years of diaries for proof. Generally, I launch myself 100% into projects and don’t rest until I reach an extremely high standard. If I don’t hit it, I hate myself. I really do.

And that’s why my neuroticism levels are high. It’s something I’ve never really noticed in myself until I started this business, but I am probably too sensitive. I take everything personally. I feel everything deeply. I obsess over the tiniest details and worry, worry, worry whether I’m doing The Right Thing. Shit, I panic over a matter of pennies.

All in all, it’s probably why I’m still single.