loathe thy neighbour


Tom the cheese maker has moved out. They call him the cheesemaker, because he makes cheese. He was my neighbour for a year or so and I never really said goodbye, because I never really said hello to him either. We just grunted on the stairs in passing, like civilised neanderthals. I only saw the contents of his flat, when items were scattered about the stairwells and balconies of No: 15 like shrapnel from a wounded removal van. From this, I deduced that Tom liked to collect walking sticks. Why, I do not know, as they didn’t even look like very good walking sticks. Maybe he was a beginner at it?

I now have a new neighbour. Barry.

My introduction to Barry was through the rear window of a Skoda Favia in council estate green, commonly known as Turquoise these days. It was filled to overload with bags and boxes, so much, that it appeared to be doing a wheelie whist stationary. This amused me. Its raised front gave the impression of it wearing shoulder pads, which is only one place short of my all time favourite car vision I have: A 1992 beige Austin Metro with the hydraulic brakes gone, sinking its head and rearing up its behind, like it was wearing stilettos. For that reason I have always seen Metros as the transvestite of the motoring industry.

I met Barry on the top of the stairs. Yet again I never said hello. I feel hello, is such a cop out, its weak, its a limp wristed safety belt of an introduction. If over familiarity breeds contempt, then I am guilty of inserting contemptuos thoughts in to the minds of many I meet. “moving in?” I asked, knowing full well what he was doing.

Barry shook my hand like 20 yr old black rapper from the ghetto, when Barry is actually a 50yr old white hippy from Glastonbury. My parents taught me to always make friends with people who can steal you a good car stereo, and I feel comfortable that whilst Barry wouldn’t be doing the thieving himself, he probably knows a man who could. I also feel comfortable that he could supply me with hard drugs should I need it.

I can’t wait to get a proper job, so when Barry staggers across the balcony and knocks on my door with a can of Tennants Super Brew, I won’t be there to answer it.

Barry dropped a massive hint, that he was doing all the moving in himself, pausing in conversation to leave me a chance to generously offer to give him a hand. It was a psychological trap that many lesser men would have fallen into, however I sidestepped and we both watched it fall 2 floors over the balcony. Barry now thinks I’m an Asshole, whilst my selective deafness is sure he called me an ‘A Soul’, which I choose to be a very complimentary statement from someone I’ve only just met.

5hrs passed, and I met Barry again on the stairwell. He was smartly dressed in a tweed jacket and a soft pair of shoes, like he’d just got out of prison, and was carrying a piece of paper which I’m sure contained a list of all the people he was planning on murdering that night.

I think I’ll invite him round for tea tomorrow, he seems like a very nice chap indeed.

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