The other day I was walking back drunkenly from a friends place and as I reached my front door I could see a neighbour (name not given just in case) trying to get into her house as well. She was, for lack of a better word, annihilated. I asked if she was OK and she slurred she was fine but just trying to get in. She couldn’t find her keys and she thought her partner wasn’t at home so I tried looking around for her keys with her as she mumbled apologies at me. She said she was sure her partner had gone in already so in the end I left her to eat my burger (classic drunken prioritising there).
Burger demolished, I went to my bedroom where Lucy was already in bed and I thought I’d look outside and see if she was still there. She was. In the end, Lucy and I brought her into our house and offered her the sofa for the night. We popped a note through the door of her house to say to her partner that she was here safe. In the morning we found a message through our door from the partner saying he was back and that he had tried to call but there was no response from us. Neighbour lady then made it across to her home, slightly embarrassed, but very thankful.
It transpires that she was outside of her home for at least half an hour and people did nothing to help her until I arrived. I was the only one in the street – on the opposite side of the road – who went to help. Could you imagine if it had been raining or snowing? Why didn’t our Neighbour knock on someone else’s door for help? Well she was drunk and embarrassed probably. Why didn’t the other neighbours (who would have been able to hear her knocking at her door trust me) help? I can’t think of a reason.
Flash back about a week before and the same neighbour offered Lucy a free coat that she was going to give away to charity. The image that is probably conjured up now is of some shite mangy coat but, apart from being a little big on Lucy, the coat was really nice. Lucy offered it to a friend of ours, Sophie, who now has a nice free winter jacket. The neighbour probably only considered giving us the jacket because we have always said hello when we’ve been passing on the streets. We’ve chatted briefly before but not at length (well until said drunken night).
So as a result of some polite conversation, Lucy got a free coat and our neighbour got looked after when she was in need. That’s pretty cool as far as I’m concerned.
Our street has fourteen terraced house on it. We live on an island full of terraced houses. They sit side by side on long streets, many of which have few exciting features. Inside these house are families going about their daily lives and staying connected with their friends and families. But I think it’s easy to forget, in Portsmouth at least, that when you have two different houses full of people only meters away from you, there are people that can be invaluable to your day to day lives as much as your friends and families.
It should be painfully obvious that this lack of neighbourly bonding is caused by the very object that I am sat typing on now. A computer, connected to almost limitless information and enabling me to contacted people across the globe is a wonderful thing but it is also stagnating normal human interaction. Better balance is needed and that balance can only come from your actions.
When Lucy and I moved here four years ago I instantly struck up conversation with my immediate neighbours. The main reason was for them to know that they could come to me if there was a problem with noise or if they needed a hand with anything or whatever. I just wanted them to know that my door was not a closed one. Sadly one of my neighbours killed himself shortly after we moved in (bad jokes should be avoided here). He was a really nice guy and we chatted over the fence sometimes but as far as I know he killed himself because he was lonely. We were given his table and chair set from his garden by his ex wife when they came to clean up the house. She told us that he was very fond of us as neighbours and that it seemed appropriate that we should have it.
I still feel sad that Lucy and I were unable to help Simon. While we slept one night, meters away Simon was bleeding out in his house. That is pretty fucking depressing. Rest in peace dude.
Love thy neighbour we are told and I can’t agree more. Our new neighbour has given us a spare key because he locks himself out all the time. He came and fixed our TV the other day for free. Another neighbour was struggling to get into her house. We looked after her for a while and then she managed to get back in. We received flowers the next day.
There are some doors that have never really been opened to me on the street but I still say hello to those people even if all I get is an awkward smile in return. I’d like them to know that if they are ever in trouble there is someone they can come to even if they might not do the same.