Tuesday, January 8, 2008

The Neighborhood Watch

Every neighborhood has one.

That person who knows everything about everyone, who keeps track of every event that's ever happened in their life or in the life of those around them.

In the UK, there exists an organisation called The Neighborhood Watch, which keeps an eye on the area, making sure vandalism doesn't occur, looking out for evil doers... being that extra set of eyes and ears that prevents crime from occurring.

They also know every bit of gossip around, and will fill you in on all that they feel is important when you move in.

I'm not sure who the official Neighborhood Watch commander is in the new neighborhood... however, HB and I have declared it to be our Neville. We have declared him to be ours, and ours alone.

On Friday last, while Loo and Ev and MB were busy transporting the furniture and such from The Very to Home, our new abode, HB and I were in charge of setting things up. This suited me just fine, as I was able to settle in, organise, alphabetise, arrange, and create my own way in Home. We took a break and stepped outside to have a look at the new Close.

No more than 30 seconds after I announced to HB, "I'm sure the neighbors are lurking behind their curtains, wondering who we are, and what we are like.", the garage door across the street opened up, and a car pulled out onto the driveway, stopped, and an elderly gentleman stepped out, shutting the door.

He walked across the communal road to us, asking if I was the lady of the house. "No, I'm just visiting."

"Ah, you're not from around here!", he exclaimed, showing his astute ear for dialects.

Since I've arrived, our inside joke has been that I've casually claimed to be from Coventry when questioned about my accent. People nod knowingly, and say, "Aye, well, I could tell." whenever I make this pronouncement.

Not 0ur Neville. He wasn't thrown off by my casual toss off of a city 30 miles away.

"Oh, you can't fool me," he carried on. "I hear a touch of the United States in your voice." Our Neville is clever.

"I've been to the United States, to Seattle. Have you been to Seattle?" Before I could answer, before either of us could say a word, our Neville launched into his story.

"I'm Neville. I live over there, at The Barn." He pointed at the home he'd walked over from, in case we'd missed him and the entire move the car routine. "Yes, we moved here from Devon. Devon is 280 miles from here, you know (no, we didn't, but, we do now). We only came here the once, after we bought the house. It's quite a long way from Devon. I know for you Americans that 280 miles is just a hop down the road, nothing at all, really. You just get in your cars and there you are! For us, however, it's a long way to go, from Devon to here. We decided to move here because our daughter lives in Buckingham, and we wanted to move closer to her. Therefore, we bought the house after we sold our house in Devon. We came here the one time, and that was all. When we moved, it was a terrible time, I hope your move is ever so much nicer. Where are you moving from?"

"Ahhh...just down the road, really. The Old Parsnip?"

"Never heard of it. And I've lived here four years. Where is it?"

I gave him the location. He thought a moment.

"Oh, yes, that big old house. I know it. Where was I? Yes, well, our move was quite exhausting for Margaret and I. We moved here with all of our belongings in one big lorry. The man we bought the house from knew we were coming, we'd made all the arrangements, transferred the money, and had the keys. We arrived at 8 at night, and wouldn't you know it, he was still here! His things were in the house and he had a lorry and a truck still in front of the house! Well, there wasn't much we could do, was there?"

HB and I politely shook our heads in dismay for him, HB never leaving the doorway, me trapped in the drive with him. HB is one of those amazing people who are never really a child. She is much like my Investment; droll, intensely bright, deep reserves of humour, sometimes saying things that go over your head and bounce back before you get what she's said.

"The next day, we came back, he still had the truck there, and then, we had the problem of the woman on the end of the Close, she had her car parked there, in the drive! We couldn't find her to move it, and no good calling the police, was there? She was a policewoman herself, they certainly weren't going to do anything! Oh, it was horrible! Took us two days to get in, get our things in. Yes. So, you live in America?"

My mind registered he'd actually asked a question. I stopped staring at the matching pen and pencil set he had in his golf shirt pocket.

"Yes, I do. I live in New York. I'm here helping Loo settle into the House."

"Have you been to Seattle?"

"No. I've been in the Northwest. I love the area.. it's so beauti..."

"Yes, my cousin lives there, Maud. She lives in Seattle. She's 90, Maud is. Gets around on her own, bless her. Her husband died not too long ago, he used to be (here he gave her husband's former Army job... pretty impressive). She married him after the War, you know. War bride and all that. Maud gets around on her own, although she's broken her hip and an arm and a rib or two. We flew over there, beautiful city, Seattle!"

I agreed with him, glancing over at HB, who had a deer caught in the headlights look.

"Beautiful." I said weakly.

"From there, we drove to Palo Alto, and stayed the night in a lovely hotel, there in Palo Alto. Do you know Palo Alto?"

I nodded.

"Drove all the way from there to Santa Fe. Just amazing, really, how your country changes day to day in the landscape and all. Just amazing! Quite lovely, and so beautiful to look at!"

I'd managed to slowly move towards HB, nodding, smile in place.

"Finally, we went to Tijuana... oh, quite a story to be told there!"

I jumped into the breach..."You'll have to blame Mexico for that city, I'm afraid.", and gave a weak laugh. "Well, we really need to get back inside and tidy... it was so nice of you to come over...stop by and meet Loo next week." I had no problems throwing her to our Neville, she'd left us here unprotected.

Our Neville wasn't done. "If you need anything, anything at all, knock on the door. Don't go to the other neighbors, they aren't friendly at all. The policewoman moved, you know... other people there now, and they don't speak to us since we took down the shed that was behind their fence. It was on our property, and it was within our rights to do so. The woman next to you hasn't spoken to us in four years. Nasty one, she is. So, you just come over to The Barn, just there, and knock on the door if you want tea, or to borrow anything at all."

He smiled and wandered back to the garage, shutting the door.

HB and I were stunned into silence. His words hung in the air, "....borrow anything, anything at all." We went back inside, into the kitchen we were arranging, and as we shut the door, she turned to me and said, "I wonder if he has an aquarium?"

Our Neville has given us a great deal of joy... we've created an entire backstory for him now, knowing he can tell you what jumper he wore on every one of his birthdays, we are pretty sure he wears Margaret's garters when she's not around, he watches cricket, cries during the Queen's speech on Christmas, and he knows the number of times Margaret's had an orgasm.


Margaret will tell you he's wrong by one.

He knows everything about everyone.... He's the Neighborhood Watch.

At least we know where to go if we need something...

...like an aquarium.


Peter Varvel said...

"Beautiful," I'll say week-ly, reading your posts.

I am tickled pink by Neville! I can't decide which I like better, the non-fictional Neville or the bits you made up about him!
Either way, great character!

austere said...


This generous, neighbourly offer of tea - you will take it up?

Braver than I thought.

Quin said...

peter~we add to his character daily.

austere~having not seen margret yet, i wonder if she is upstairs in a rocking chair...and will never take an offer of the use of his shower.

constant_drama said...

Oh God, what a pain for Loo to be having a neighbour like that. Urrrggghh...

I have relatives like that. One particular cousin was extremly nosy. Then one day as she was going to ask every single thing about my life I just told her straight faced

"I'm wearing blue panties today"
"Why did you tell me that?"
"Coz I bet you want to know about it since you want to know about everything and anything else."

After that she never asked me another thing though I know she's dying to.

Bud said...

I wonder if there is an actual rule of the universe that insists such a Neville person should exist in every neighborhood? Still he is a bit unique, you have to admit.

golfwidow said...

I say this bloke's never real. He's some fictional construct written by Terry Pratchett.

loobell said...

sadly I can confirm that we indeed Do have a Neville..... I met him yesterday. Only briefly I had to be rude to escape...... but I did giggle to myself when he wasn't sure which re-cycling box to put out for our refuse collection this morning...

Quin said...

bud~we are neville junkies now

gw~pratchett wishes he'd created this guy

loo~you were SO snooty. ha!

Loobell said...

Moi ? Snooty ? Never! Mind you I think I can just about live with being put on Neville's "off list".. with the rest of the neighbours.

Anonymous said...

My partner and I really enjoyed reading this blog post, I was just itching to know do you trade featured posts? I am always trying to find someone to make trades with and merely thought I would ask.