My neighbours are nice. We wave at each other in the street while smiling nervously and thinking, Who the hell is she? A friend of mine once confessed that when driving, he used to sometimes parp his horn and wave energetically at a stranger while shouting: “Hello!” Nine times out of ten the poor person would wave feebly back and look very confused.
Yesterday The Girl who has that four year old habit of saying absolutely everything in her head(a habit that sadly some people never grow out of)- regal led Mr Next Door with a long tiresome monologue about her new pink gloves. “They have pink hearts on them and I’ve got a matching scarf and my best friend is called Shania.” What is it about four year olds that they never draw enough breath for you to run away or interrupt? I watched as Mr Next Door’s smile became more fixed. Then when The Girl offered to show him her matching pink knickers he suddenly decided he was in training for a marathon, and sprinted off up the road as though the pink hounds of hell were after him.
But most of the time like all English people I talk to my neighbours and local shopkeepers about the Weather. “Cold isn’t it?” “Ooh yes. . .freezing.” A moment of silence. “I wouldn’t mind that so much but it’s damp as well.” “Oh yes. Damp. Terrible. So cold and damp.”
Another silence. Then one of us ventures:
“Must go. I’m really cold.” And off we go again. “Yes I don’t remember it being so cold last year.”
One of us really ought to say: “It’s nearly December. Of course it’s fucking cold!”