Do you ever wonder what your neighbours think about you? How they pigeon-hole you into a particular category or type? The thought crossed my mind a couple of hours ago when I opened the baby’s window and flung a filled nappy sack out of the window to the ground below, a time-saving, odour-reducing technique that means the unwanted bag lands right next to the wheelie bin by the back door, and simultaneously ensures that it doesn’t sit in the kitchen awaiting expulsion for several hours until somebody remembers it is there and does the necessary.
Anyway, as I closed the window, I noticed that the next-door neighbour was in her kitchen making a drink. She was standing by her window and must have seen the flying nappy sack as it zoomed past on its way to the bin. Then, a random thought popped into my head; are we known as ‘House of the Flying Nappies?’
Do they think we are slightly nuts for hurling little plastic bags out of the bedroom window several times a day?
What else do they think of us?
We are quiet neighbours I think – except for the baby’s crying and that’s excused as far as I’m concerned in the realm of neighbourly noise pollution because there is sod all that can be done about it. Our plastics bin is always overloaded, spewing empty milk bottles and yoghurt pots on to the ground around where it sits in the final days before the bin men dispose of its contents. The dog barks occasionally, but not to the point of distraction. We generally do not let her do a number two on the garden, so there are no unsightly dollops for our neighbours to see when they open their curtains. We don’t have wild parties, tinker with old cars or motorbikes, play loud music or have loud domestic arguments for all and sundry to hear. We are polite and friendly and exchange brief hellos if and when we bump into any of those who live in our immediate proximity.
Before I moved in here, I lived in an apartment with just my eldest daughter. My neighbours there most likely had a very different impression of me then. I quite often had people around, and we would stay up until two or three am drinking, which subsequently meant periodically tottering outside to smoke fags, standing on the doorstep of the apartment block with wine glass in one hand and cigarette in the other (I should point out that these events generally happened when my daughter was at her Dad’s). I would frequently return home from a night out, utterly smashed, and stagger down the long, steep drive in high heels, and on more than the odd occasion I fell to the ground with a resounding smack, instigating the onset of some severe bruising.
One night in the winter, I took a particularly nasty tumble on some ice and proceeded to roll, commando-style, down a steep grass bank that was a slippery mix of slush, ice and mud, landing embarrassed and covered in dirt in a heap at the bottom.
This drunken behaviour had the effect of turning me into an insecure, paranoid person with a nervous disposition. I would scuttle off, head down, if I spotted a neighbour approaching me in the car park, terrified that they might have witnessed me inebriated and acting badly the previous night. Living on my own with a daughter, a woman in her mid-thirties, and clearly someone who enjoyed knocking back the vino on a regular basis, I am sure that my neighbours’ opinions of me were less than sparkling. I probably didn’t help myself much when I routinely carried huge amounts of clanking empties across the car park to the communal bins, or if I was ever spotted walking home from the nearby supermarket, carrier bags full of wine bottles.
Considering the two categories, pissed-up old lush who smokes like a chimney and cannot converse with people in a normal, functioning way, or mum of two, resident of House of the Flying Nappies, who, in between looking after her kids, bloke and dog goes jogging quite a lot and is often seen sitting at her laptop through the kitchen window, and whose blue bin gets a bit full from time to time, I definitely prefer the latter.