Everybody needs good neighbours

It’s a terrible thing. It can happen to anyone. It’s probably happened to you several times. It can get you on the bus, in school, at a conference, on a plane. It strikes you out of the blue. Without warning. And there’s nothing you can do to prevent this terrible affliction.

There’s nothing worse in life when you find yourself sitting beside an empty seat when the nutter walks into the room.

In school there’s nothing worse that spending a day (or possibly a year if you went to a school that assigned seats) when you’re at school sitting next to the class nubnut who spends his entire day trying to push pastel crayons up his nose. I suspect some bus companies employ the guys that smell faintly of lager and man-wee who roam the double deckers occasionally shouting ‘it’s Chriiiistmassss’ in a Noddy Holder fashion. In July. It ensures a good turnover of passengers.

The thing is, it’s not just on buses or at desks – what about when they live near you?

Over the years we’ve had our fair share of interesting close neighbours. There was the chocolate factory, which was scrummy. It had a railway station painted like chocolate wrappers and sold cheap chocolate for students. That house even had an elderly couple who took it upon themselves to cook apple pies for the 6 students sharing the house next door.

Then there were the Chinese students. They seemed to have not quite worked out how phones work. They’d assume that their mobile was in some way connected by string to China and that the best way was to shout into it at full volume. At 1am. That was when they weren’t practicing for the Olympic team for the world’s fastest copulation. Again, at full volume presumably so their friends in China could hear that they were otherwise engaged.

On the other side we had the Secret Agent. Obviously he never admitted this, he always claimed to be a ‘social worker’. But it’s what they say on Spooks. He was a camp divorcee with a wooden tribal fertility statue in his front window, who quickly changed his calender of semi-naked men for one of fluffy kittens every time his parents visited. To be fair, I always thought the kittens were more of a giveaway. He had the added bonus of going away on holiday and letting some recovering addicts stay in his house who decided to hold their own intimate performance of Green Day’s entire back catalogue 3 nights in a row before selling his telly and kicking a door in (from the inside – brilliant Sherlock!), and claiming there was a break-in (out).

You’d think that would be hard to top wouldn’t you?

And then today, I come home to find my house has been sealed off by the local police as we await the arrival of the army bomb disposal squad. It turns out I’ve been sleeping (not to mention eating, reading, gardening, washing my hair etc) within 10 metres of a World War II hand grenade for the last four years. Some people keep guppy fish. Some people grow bonsai. That’s not good enough for my neighbours, they keep pet explosives… Exciting, huh? I was just thinking the other day that I was living a very quiet life when it turns out I’ve been living like Verloc from Jasper Conrad’s Secret Agent – and as I recall, that didn’t end well.

Even Jack Bauer only has to live with the possibility of being blown into tiny pieces for 24 hours every season – my life’s way cooler…

About this entry