I have new neighbours on both sides of me. The itinerant naturist has left––with summer fast approaching that is something of a blessing––and, in his place, are two fitness fanatics, who exercise al fresco every morning, on the small paved patio at the rear of their house, in a carefully choreographed sequence of thrusts and grunts.
On the other side, the resident family of 15-years duration, whom I thought I knew reasonably well, upped sticks and departed without so much as a by-your-leave, fond farewell or forwarding address. Products of the digital generation, it seems to be the norm these days. In their place, and after several months of noisy––oh, my God, how noisy––renovations, a nice, young, extended Eastern European family have moved in. Romanians? It is my working hypothesis.
Naturally, neither new sets of neighbours have introduced themselves to me; nor have I extended the same courtesy to them. We all live side by side, in a state of pleasant non-interventionism; more Belgium and Holland than Russia and Ukraine.
Except, in the absence of any solid facts, I find myself unable to keep from speculating about my new sets of neighbours. I wonder if I will ever be invited to join the early-morning exercise classes, and so develop rock solid abs and bulging pecs. I picture myself accompanying the Romanians at one of their regular weekend garden barbecues, and sinking my teeth into a thick, chargrilled steak and curly fries. And I wonder about what goes on behind the closed doors, invisible to my behind-the-net-curtain gaze?
I am using Covid restrictions as an excuse as to why I don’t go and introduce myself to my new neighbours, but the reality is that I don’t want to discover the mundane answers to my questions. I prefer to keep my neighbours cloaked under a veil of mystery, so that I can continue to enjoy our rich shared fantasy life, which exists only in my imagination. And, also, so that when they leave––as they inevitably will do––without saying goodbye, I won’t feel quite so pissed off as I would do if I had taken the trouble to become friends.
© Simon Turner-Tree
Simon Turner-Tree listens to the sound of the suburbs.