Go on, I’m serious. Try and name out loud, three of your neighbours. If you struggled to name even one of your neighbours, why not do something about it this summer? With warm weather in abundance, it’s time for barbeques, gardening, over-the-fence chinwags, or perhaps making a small offering of some of your garden’s produce!
We all value and protect our privacy to some degree or other, but are we also losing the nack of being ‘neighbourly’? As Stephen Fry says, we live “…in a world where we’re used to knowing more about our television personalities than our neighbours“. Ask yourself this : If your neighbour’s burglar or car alarm went off, would you know if they’d gone away for a holiday? Do you use the cliché “Oh they keep themselves very much to themselves” as an excuse to avoid them?
Today I read this story from Edinburgh : “Body may have lain for five years” and I ask myself, “Who was to blame?” Well of course no-one was really. Or maybe, everyone. You see, she didn’t live in an isolated farmhouse twenty miles from anywhere, but rather in a block of tenement flats. She had neighbours less than twenty feet to the side of her and below her. I felt so angry to read one neighbour quoted as saying “In all the 18 years we lived there, Ms Purves never had one visitor, it was a wee shame.” So why the heck didn’t you knock on the door and say ‘hello’ then?
When I was at junior school, I used to walk past an “old-lady’s” house every day. She always seemed so sad and lonely, spending hours just looking out as the world passed by. So one day, I got a little soft fairy cake (I’d heard that little old ladies sometime couldn’t chew very well) stuck a candle in the top, knocked on her door and said “Hello. Excuse me for interrupting you. I’ve no idea when your birthday is, so how about we celebrate it today – Happy Birthday”. I’ll never ever forget her face as it lit up (and it wasn’t from the single unlit candle either). It turned out that I was her only visitor except for her daughter who lived over three hundred miles away. We became firm friends for many years.
So if you failed the challenge I set you, don’t worry, there’s no losers in this game, just an opportunity to make friends that you haven’t met yet. So go and do something nice for one of them. And here’s the best bit : it’ll actually feel rather good as well. And you might get some cake!!