Who are your neighbors? Are you friends with them, barely say hi, or avoid them altogether? Tell us a story — real or invented — about the people on the other side of your wall (or street, or farm, or… you get the point).
I don’t have anything bad to say about the neighbours on either side or at the front or back of my house. I don’t have much to say about any of them. It’s not that I’m antisocial, it’s just that we all live differently to the way we did 50, 20, or even 10 years ago.
Many years ago, when the houses around here were first built, there was a large influx of families about the same time and most of us grew up together. Time has gone on, kids have grown up, their parents have grown old and died, or families have simply moved on. New families have moved in.
The thing is, when we first moved in, there were no dividing walls between our gardens, nobody had cars and very few mothers went out to work. Whether this was good or bad is for a different conversation. What I want to point out is that the result of being carless, unable to afford to erect a garden wall or fence and having mother available to take care of the kids after school, everybody actually lived on the same street. We had time to get to know each other, build up relationships and become good friends or sworn enemies. Visiting relatives on the other side of town was a major expedition, limited by the public transport timetable.
In the past few years, the original family moved out of the house on our left, and two other families have moved in and subsequently moved on. On the other side, the two kids I babysat no longer live in the country. Their parents are dead and there is a new family in the house – mum and dad wave as they leave for work every morning, the kids go to day-care until mum or dad pick them up, and we all scurry to our respective homes for dinner every night. Only one member of the original family lives opposite – a somewhat eccentric son who never really mixed with the other kids. Behind me there is a jolly-sounding family, but I have no idea what language they speak, so our conversations are limited to “Hi” and pleasant nods through the hedge when I am entertaining the dogs or sorting out the garden.
There is the occasional chat over the wall with the folks on each side. We all engaged in a spot of bonding when we were flooded, and when the city council blocked everybody’s driveways without notice. At Christmas, New Year’s Eve and so on, everybody smiles and gives the appropriate greeting. But when the newer families moved in, they were fully-formed, with pre-existing friendships and relationships. These days, we’ve all got cars, mobile phones and internet – we are not as cut off from friends and family living in other areas. For example, I have more interaction with my cousin in Melbourne, Australia, than I do with the people next door.
This doesn’t mean that I don’t speak to any of my neighbours, only that I don’t know my immediate neighbours well enough to tell a story about them. However, to stay within the context of this prompt, here is a little tale, heavily redacted for reasons that should be plain:
Person living in the neighbourhood for many years. Had conversation almost every day. Very pleasant. Noticed this person was not around the neighbourhood any more. Turns out this person was employed by a certain illegal organisation to carry out “hits”.
So, my advice is this: if you publish your opinion of your neighbours, do be careful not to offend.