A Sigh of Relief as the New Neighbour Settles in!

Posted on December 2, 2011

My new next door neighbour arrived safely yesterday without too much fuss and thankfully, without any signs of a huge contingent of cats. My old neighbours loaded their van up and wished me well which, somewhat ridiculously, caused a bit of a lump in my throat, confirming the fact that I am hopeless at goodbyes, no matter how trivial they are. I have only uttered about ten sentences to them in two years, but for some reason they have invited me to pop in to their new place to “say hello” any time I am next in the area. This seemed to me a bit like an Australian barman who says to a drunk in a Hammersmith bar “If you are ever in Sydney, pop in mate, you’re more than welcome.” This personal invite was made even more bizarre by the fact that I never popped in to say hello when they were approximately six inches away, so why would I do so now they had moved? Maybe I should turn up on a Sunday night in six months time with six cans of Special Brew and an ounce of dope just to see the look on their faces.

I didn’t meet my new neighbour until about 4.00pm as I had stayed behind closed doors until the removal van was empty, even though I had needed to get my wallet from my car for the previous three hours. This way I could volunteer to help safe in the knowledge all the hard graft had been done. As I sneaked out she bounded from her house to greet me in a manner that was a bit too enthusiastic for my liking, but at least it only involved a handshake rather than a double peck on each cheek that sends me thousands of miles outside my comfort zone, even with the closest of my friends. “Need a hand” I said without fear. “No, no, all done now…….phew, what a day.” As I looked over her shoulder scouring the room for cats, she informed me that she was an administrative worker at the NHS in Sutton and that from Tuesday to Friday she would be living with her sister nearer to her work place. This was quite literally music to my ears, as these days could now be known as Ipod days, days when I can play music as loud as I want without fear of retribution.

My only concern at this was point was this; Why was she (now known as Helen) moving from Sutton to Basingstoke when she still worked in Sutton? Was she running from an estranged husband who wanted to burn her house down!!!? I hoped not and tried to put this to the back of my mind as the conversation continued to meander along to the all to inevitable climax that contains these words. “So…..what are the neighbours like?” This is a really tricky question but I did my best with the little knowledge I have gained in two years. “Well….. next door is Simon, he lives alone, I don’t really see him much, he is very quiet…….and next door to him is Matt and………erm……Lucy I think….they are quiet too. Then next door to them….. I really don’t know what they are called, they are very, very quiet. Opposite is Stacy, she seems nice, but I have only spoken to her on occasion because she is very quiet….she keeps herself to herself.” Fuck me, it sounded like I was being interviewed on the news about a group of mass murderers, they are always very quiet people who keep themselves to themselves. I was ever so glad that my kids turned up as we were chatting, as this at least made it look less likely that I was sex offender who lived alone and kept himself to himself. Without the kids on board I am only a beard and some thick glasses away from having the perfect pervert profile.

One thing is for certain, and that is if Helen has moved in to this Cul-de-Sac in hope of having Jubilee Street parties and cheese and wine evenings with the neighbours, she is about to be bitterly disappointed, as we are all about as sociable as a turkey at a Christmas shoot, and to be honest, that suits me just dandy, I really can’t be doing with any of that nonsense. However, I think I may have got lucky here, because if she is away at work half the time, surely she will not have the energy for entertaining neighbours or feeding multitudes of cats will she? I may be getting ahead of myself, but I think I may have got the neighbour equivalent of a golden ticket. It’s not that I hate cats, it’s just that when I moved in to this house, I bought an exquisite bird table that set me back fifty quid. I did this so I could work in my kitchen and watch the garden birds feeding on the winter feasts I had laid out for them. Within a day of putting the seed out I was greeted with a slaughtered green finch on my doorstep, a murder where I had very much played a part, setting the trap for the ultimate cat crime I was deeply upset about.

It had turned out that the neurotic old con woman I had bought the house off had embarked on a campaign to feed every cat that lived in Hatch Warren, meaning that each morning my back door patio area would be infested with them all waiting for their breakfast. It took several months and gallons of water to convince them to piss off for good, hence the fact that it was little wonder the skies and bushes around my house were devoid of all but the bravest and stupidest of birds. That poor little green finch didn’t have a prayer. So as winter arrives and my neighbours and their cats move on to new territory, maybe, at long last, I will have the opportunity to feed my feathered friends once again and justify the price tag of the redundant bird table, though the birds may take some convincing after the tragic events that unfolded on green finch day.

Next week, read the riveting tale about the first bird to venture in to my garden since the death of the green finch.

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