I’ve always considered myself a good neighbour.
The kind of neighbour that will take in your parcel for you, tell you if you’ve left your headlights on, or lend you that onion you need to make dinner.
But this week I read something that made me think again. And consider.
That something was an amusing rant – against bad neighbours. 31 separate complaints entitled Things my neighbours do that aren’t annoying enough to complain about but are still really annoying
It got me thinking about neighbourliness. That how we feel about our neighbours, how much they annoy us, is a direct consequence of how much they encroach on our territory, on the little patch of the universe that we call home.
The closer our territories are, the more threatened we feel. The more sounds, smells, sights start to grate on the nerves.
I have lived in an apartment in Italy where EVERY SINGLE window looked straight into someone else’s life. No way you could walk around that apartment naked. And there was no getting away from the make ups, break ups and scream ups of my many, many neighbours. Granted, they sounded much sexier in Italian.
I’ve also lived in several London flats where the nonexistent soundproofing between floors meant I had to endure the echoey sounds of neighbours relieving themselves (in more ways than one), opening drawers and plugging in appliances. All things you can’t really complain about (or have any right to stop anyone from doing). Still bloody annoying though.
Needless to say, had I been blogging back then, I would probably have had my own neighbour rant with a lot more than 31 complaints in it.
But right now, I’m a mum. With two loud kids. See where I’m going with this?
We live in a mid-terraced house in Cornwall. Next door on one side are second-home owners who are scarcely here. But on my other side is a lovely older lady with a beautiful garden. Neither side have crashing, banging, screaming, young children. But oops. I do.
Our back gardens are long, narrow vertiginous strips. Five gardens in a row are barely separated from one another by low slate tombstone fencing. There’s NO getting away from one another’s laundry, barbecues or garden chitchat.
We like it. The street’s kids garden hop. We can have a natter with neighbours if we want to or pretend we can’t see one another if we don’t.
But. Our kids are the youngest, noisiest, screamiest. Oops again.
So instead of 31 complaints about my neighbours, I have 31 apologies to make on behalf of myself and my tribe.
Apologies for the many things we do that would annoy even the most patient (or hard-of-hearing) soul.
We don’t mean to do them. Many of them we will grow out of. Hopefully. One day.
Until then, please accept our apologies that:
- My kids fight. All. Day. Long.
- At least one of them will slam a door each day.
- When I’m at my limit I join in. Slamming doors feels good.
- Our house wakes up at 6am. Even on Sundays.
- We built a tree house in our garden and it’s pretty big.
- We have an ugly trampoline in our garden.
- The kids play crazy, loud games on the trampoline that usually end in tears.
- My loud, jolly dad likes to join in with the crazy, loud games on the trampoline that usually end in tears.
- Whenever I try to do anything other than play crazy, loud games on the trampoline, my daughter urgently needs me and screams “MUUUUUM” up the garden.
- My daughter screams “MUUUUUM” up the garden several times. Every. Single. Day.
- I sometimes leave her screaming “MUUUUUM” up the garden because I am mid-wee (or worse) and I need to finish doing that first.
- I sometimes leave her screaming “MUUUUUM” up the garden because frankly, I’ve had enough, and I KNOW that there’s nothing wrong because the last time I rushed out to see what was up, I found she had discovered a woodlouse (she likes them) and wanted to tell me she had decided to call it ‘Woody’.
- The pretty acer tree in our garden has been renamed ‘the wee tree’.
- My kids like to frequent the wee tree.
- We talk about poo, wee, farts and burps. A lot.
- We all find these puerile topics extremely amusing.
- We find farting for real even funnier (although we ALWAYS say ‘pardon me’).
- My husband has four chainsaws and uses them to feed his addiction for gathering firewood.
- Our bins are always full and often smelly (although less so now the kids are out of nappies).
- There’s always something ugly waiting to be taken to the dump on the top of our bikeshed.
- On the odd occasion that I’m feeling optimistic enough to hang the washing on the line, it will inevitably stay there for at least three days.
- I drive a squashed car and it makes the street look messy.
- We need a new front door and it makes the street look messy.
- I’ve got the kids into RnB and we listen to TLC’s Scrubs really loud in the car.
- We don’t have a doorbell so you have to knock.
- I sneeze really, really loudly.
- So does my son.
- So does my dad.
- My husband talks really loudly.
- He swears a lot (and really loudly) when he’s doing DIY.
- He does a lot of DIY.
I could go on. But I won’t. I’ll just finish off with one big thank you. Thank you neighbours for being friendly, understanding, patient and just generally wonderful in light of all of the above.