Love Thy Neighbour

I find this one of the hardest tenets to hold to sometimes. I come from antisocial stock: my parents were the park furthest away from everyone, don’t mind friends kind of breed, and I’ve inherited that reluctance to socialise with anyone I don’t have to – particularly my immediate neighbours, next door. I’ve always had civil, if undemanding relationships with my next-door neighbours, be it the hospitable Cypriots in Palmers Green, the Pakistani family in Arnos Grove – I don’t even remember who lived nextdoor at my first house in Wood Green, most of the time it was being renovated by a slightly elderly, but jovial, West Indian gent.

This time around, we have something of a screeching harridan, with young kids. Over the weekend we’ve been creeping around the house, handling our broken bathroom door with the sort of care with which a brain surgeon would be proud, sneaking up the stairs like we’re in training for a career in cat burgling. This is to avoid making noise which will carry through the wall (in a late Victorian terrace, the walls are paper thin: I hear every word they say), an almost impossible task. An unreasonable demand upon us, backed up by a twitchy, angry lad who refuses to look people in the eye when talking to them.

So what to do in this situation? At the moment our best option seems to be muffins, bribery with. We can’t go on sneaking around our own home like we’re not supposed to be there, and if fixing the bathroom door doesn’t stop the alleged banging, then I don’t know what will, and we’ll have to take it from there. In the meantime, I’m taking deep breaths and not trying to be snarky or make accusations back or be unhelpful. I’m a nice guy, but it doesn’t come as easily as all that.

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