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…

Trying To Remember

It never used to be 18 days between blog posts.

This is the very first time I’ve thought about this blog in a long time. That can only mean one thing: I’ve been otherwise engaged.

And it’s actually true. This week in particular has been tough. Three late nights in a row trying to fix computers that have been in a serious mess. And succeeding. Then getting paid quite well for it. OK, it’s never enough, but I can’t complain at all.

Things are quite positive for me lately. There was the fun of the election period, during which I made a brief detour to Hull and visited friends. I stayed up all night and then all the next day watching the festivities. Don’t think I’ve ever enjoyed myself so much. OK, I’m not much a fan of the result, but as a student of politics it was truly magical.

It made me miss the idea of having friends available to speak to on a regular basis. Facebook and other communication methods just don’t cut it. But I’m improving on that score, slightly. I still have precisely zero “friends” around here, but lately I’ve gotten to know a couple of my neighbours, and that has really helped. Even got invited over for dinner to one. That was very… civilized. I was the oldest one there by about 30 years. But still, I enjoyed it.

But it’s difficult when you age. You don’t get as many opportunities to mix socially with people your own age for the simple and obvious reason that there is no education any more. Education really is such a fantastic idea because of the social benefits it brings. At last, I am beginning to understand why most people say that school days are some of the best days of your life. Even though I hated it at the time. Funny.

So things are ticking over nicely for me. The general direction of travel is positive. I have a rough idea of where I’m going. It just needs to keep moving. In some sense, I don’t have control over that. All I can do is keep working hard, doing a good job, and hoping my customers take care of the rest by recommending me.

I just need to remember to keep a record of life here. Cos I know I’ll find it fascinating to look back on when I’m older. Blogging bug, I need you!

And Then There Was Internet

Though not in the way I might have expected it to appear…

It’s been a long while since I last posted. Two weeks, in fact. In all that time, I’ve been mostly sitting around, waiting for something interesting to happen.

It hasn’t.

It’s been a hard slog. The lack of internet has meant that every day I’ve had to trudge to the library to get my daily fix of social communication and news/opinion.

But now it’s over.

I have internet, of sorts. It’s through the wall into the neighbour’s house, as they’ve been exceptionally kind enough to let us use their connection while we wait for Virgin Media to install.

They were meant to do so on Tuesday, but, in a move that I totally expected, turned up and told me they couldn’t install. Something to do with the fact that, on this whole street, we are the only house for which there appear to be no connection on the path outside.

Talk about bad luck. Yet somehow I just knew it was going to happen. I had a similar NTHell problem when I tried to get setup with the service when I moved to London for a year.

However, this time they are coming back in two weeks to try again. In the meantime, someone is going to come out and install a proper connection outside the house, where it’s supposed to be.

When our neighbour heard of this plight, they took pity on us and lent us their wireless password. Very kind of them. Otherwise, it was going to mean another two weeks of tedium, wasting time in which I could be getting my business up and running.

And, by Christ, do I need it. My bank balance has taken an extraordinary dip with the amount of spending I’ve been doing lately. It seems the bills for this, that and the other just haven’t stopped coming. And I’m already having to consider next month’s rent payment. Nearly a whole month spent here already.

The bitter irony of all of this is that later on today I’m going back home for a few days, meaning I won’t really need the internet anyway. And it may turn out to be longer than a few days if I can’t think up some cheap way of getting back down South.

It will be good to get away from here anyway. I have to admit it’s not exactly been socially fulfilling lately. I’m already starting to get a bit annoyed with my housemate. That didn’t take long… but it’s because I’m so fussy over things. So it will be good to get a break from him. And I have missed my family a bit too. Especially the banter I enjoy having with my younger sister. I can’t watch The Simpsons – her favourite show – these days without thinking about her and the obsession she has with it.

Still. The transition to this new phase of life continues. I think I’ll get there in the end..