Monday, May 08, 2006

Neighbours

Tevye recently read in a newspaper article that only one-third of people in the UK consider they have a good relationship with their neighbours. We are among the fortunate minority, and I have been pondering just how fortunate we are. To the right we have J-next-door, A-next-door, their elder brother D and parents A and K; next to them are D and A, a childless couple maybe a little older than ourselves. To the left we have M and L, a young couple in their twenties - no kids yet, one very playful dog. This weekend was a fairly typical example of the way in which our neighbours enhance life for our family.

Friday lunchtime - K fed myself and the girls bacon sandwiches (we don't have pig products at home because of Tevye, so this is by way of a treat). It was another sunny afternoon so inertia struck and we ended up spending a couple of hours in her garden drinking coke and chatting.

Friday evening - M and Tevye arrived home from work at the same time, so stood outside chatting. Others drifted out to join them - Dog, Star, Angel, myself, L when she arrived home. We all moved into our garden and Tevye opened a bottle of wine. Children were dispatched to see if K wanted a glass. K joined us. A-next-door appeared, and she and Star launched themselves on M, who spent quite some time spinning them round, with bemused but enthusiastic participation from Dog (who couldn't quite work out where his ball was supposed to fit into this game). J-next-door and a visiting friend came to borrow Dog and take him for a walk. Angel and L sat on the swing seat chatting.

Saturday - I took some spare computer memory round to D to see if he could make use of it, and ended up staying for 30 minutes talking with D and A about Little Cherub and asking advice on our choice of replacement computer. Later on spent time with K and A, also picking A's brains about the computer. J-next-door, A-next-door, Angel, Star and friend-of-J-next-door spent the later afternoon and evening drifting in and out of each other's houses.

Sunday - J-next-door and Angel walked up to the shop to buy chocolate for everyone. They knocked on M and L's door in the hope of taking Dog with them, but M, L and Dog were out. K took J-next-door and Angel with her to a discount clothes store to change some jeans. Much chatting and giggling in the car. A-next-door stayed here with Star and my brother while Tevye and I went for a walk. Later K and A joined us for tea and coffee while Angel and J-next-door sat on the swing seat, still chatting and giggling. A-next-door and Star spent a happy hour digging a hole to bury an unwanted key. Why? Who knows! My brother kindly refilled the hole after they lost interest. He also played football with D-next-door while the girls dug.

Now this weekend was just the fun, social stuff. That alone is good, particularly for the children who are enjoying a type of childhood that was common forty or fifty years ago, but has become increasingly rare as communities become more fractured. For us, it goes much further in that we know there is practical help and support available when we need it. Various neighbours have cheerfully stepped in and shifted furniture and other items we simply can't manage ourselves because of my bump and Tevye's back. We have been offered the loan of two separate laptops to tide us over our computer catastrophe. When Little Cherub decides to arrive the girls will go next door, with back up from other neighbours if for any reason K and A are not available. There are any number of ways in which help from our neighbours makes life run just that bit more smoothly. We truly appreciate our good fortune.

2 comments:

..Michele Q said...

You truly are blessed! Growing up we knew all our neighbors and many of them became almost as close as family. We called all the adults Aunt or Uncle so and so and the kids were like siblings. But things aren't like that in most neighborhoods nowadays and it's certainly not like that here in our current neighborhood. It makes me sad. I do try to be friendly to my neighbors but it only goes so far and most of them are rather reserved (though the Lithuain lady next door is forever sending over treats to my kids. ;-)

Your neigbors sound wonderful. I'm glad you have them!

The Bookworm said...

Oh, so am I glad! And I appreciate it all the more because it is increasingly rare here too.