Out of Place
You can’t choose your family only your friends. But what about neighbours?
We like our house. We like its robust construction, insulated for warmth and sound. We like the Aga, period features, bi-fold doors open to the long green garden. We’ve lived here harmoniously among neighbours watching our children grow and go. We had no plans to move but then next door sold up, cashed in, drove away without a wave.
Then came new neighbours…
They’re ordinary folk with a cat and a tiny pigeon-toed daughter with a dummy, few words and none of those polysyllabic. They watch TV with the window wide open, walk around locked into screens of sophisticated phones The bins tell us they live on take-away. It seems the adults can’t cook, don’t want to cook or have never cooked. Gran arrives several times a week in a Toyota pick-up overloaded with scrap metal, her arms full of party bags, mainly cheese and onion. Gentrification in reverse ?
They’re sedentary creatures manoeuvring their over-weight hulks slowly with a languid saunter from carrying too many calories rather than an inverted perceived superiority: neighbours think they’re lottery winners.
He runs up and down the two flights of stairs, two at a time, thumping as he goes; up and back, a zillion times a day dragging his bulk and his builders bum to find things he remembers he put somewhere; a boy in a man’s body, out of breath and soon out of life. He wears Superman T-shirts, lives to clean the car. He sprays any and all insects and doesn’t seem to have a means of gainful employment. He has no conversation nor eye-contact beyond a grunt; he may have mild Aspergers.
She gets large, grazing tables at the Hungry Horse Inn where she waitresses and complains about lack of appetite. When the car stops askew in the shared drive, doors open scattering crusts and crumbs, sweets and pop sachets, empty cans and crinkly bags. She can’t go after them as they rampage around the drive like children released in a fun-park.
The rabbit hutch didn’t last long and the outdoor sofa he made from pallets never looked cool like the ‘wannerbees’ on the soaps. They’ve resumed tipping cat litter and disposable nappies straight into shared bins choosing to ignore some carefully chosen words about coming summer. The cat with one eye has taken a liking to our garden.
They don’t know how out of place they are, nor do they care.
Now we’re beginning to feel insecure; ready to cast-off, feeling out of place.