We moved in over Christmas. That was a shock and a half – the sound of children screaming, people talking, televisions blaring and cars revving. How were we going to survive? We had not had neighbours for twenty years. We were used to absolute silence with the occasional conversation between ourselves thrown in to break it. The noise was driving us mad. Then Christmas was over and so was the noise. Relief flooded over us, we thought we may have to move to escape it.
Living behind our wall we didn’t see anyone and now we didn’t hear anyone. As I didn’t know a soul it would have been a start to meet the neighbours. I should have gone door knocking but being the shy, non-communicative person that I am it just wasn’t in character. If only they had knocked on my door and introduced themselves.
Then one day whilst gardening I heard “She’s not going to talk to us. I think she’s going in. Hey….” I turned and saw a couple slightly older than myself but at fifty-six they could have been sixty or eighty. “We are your next door neighbours Bob and Winifred.” They weren’t quite our next door neighbours living three houses to the right of us but who cared. I introduced myself and told them my husband’s name.
“Have you met Doreen next door?”
“Oh. She’s lovely. She lives there by herself. She was divorced about ten years ago, just before she bought here. She came for the granny flat and she had her parents in there but they died a couple of years back and she rents it out.” He paused to breathe. ” The couple that were there have just gone and a single lady, Rose, has moved in. She has an old dog that is dying. Sad really because that is all the company she has. Have you met Petra?”
“She’s lovely. She actually owns the house on the corner but is living in this one here.” He turned and pointed to the house diagonally opposite. ” It’s her parents house. They live in Dubbo and are going to retire here in the near future. Have you met David and his wife?” A shake of the head was sufficient. “She’s his second wife. They’re about to have twins. They had hoped to have the extension finished by the time the babies come but I don’t think they have a chance with all that rain we’ve had. They are going to leave it black. I’ve never seen a black building before but he must know what he’s doing.”
We went through every neighbour in the street, at least five houses on either side and all the ones opposite. Then they asked about us and then our house. The previous owner had given them a guided tour just before they departed so they spoke with some knowledge of the interior. We told him that we had wished the previous owner had given us a guided tour as we were still trying to work out how some of the systems worked. Bob then dropped a bombshell – the previous owners were renting just a little further down the street and they had not sold because they were divorcing as I had surmised.
“Go and knock on their door. They won’t mind coming up and showing you.” We knew that was exactly what they did not want to do as we had already discovered many of the items left were faulty and we had no choice but to replace them at great expense.
I have met a couple of the residents in our street now, but thanks to the gossip of our friendly neighbours I walk the street with a degree of connectivity. I know everyone who lives in our vicinity even though we have never spoken a word and I’ll bet they know who we are, why we moved, where we moved from and maybe a few more facts that even I don’t know.