You know that film Disturbia? You know with Shia Desperation [cute, but clueless]? The one that was a remake of a film made by a fat silhouette? Well, for the uninformed and those too lazy to read the links, it is about this dude who gets to thinking that his neighbour is some psycho serial killer on account of some strange shit going down at his house. It later transpires that he isn’t, but then, in time honoured tradition he is; unless you were planning on seeing the film and don’t want the surprise ruining, in which case, I don’t know whether he is or not.
Phew! Glad we cleared that up. I live in a semi-detached house; the neighbours in the house we are attached to are complete loons. Not serial killers, just complete OCD freaks. I think they must have met at some support group, because they are always cleaning the windows and hoovering – always with the fucking hoovering. She is a bit madder than him. She has a lazy eye and wears a clear plastic headscarf all the time no matter what the weather.
I remember a couple of years back, when her husband was still working, I got to the bus stop and she was waiting there for a bus, her plastic headscarf like a resplendent crest in the bright spring sun. Of course, I ignored her, my iPOD cranked up, my look, casually aggressive to anyone over forty raised on a daily tabloid diet of ‘teenager terrors’. The bus was late and she kept pacing up to the timetable and shaking her head; eventually she stopped in front of me and mouthed something; I was forced to remove my headphones and ask what she had said, as she was stood in front of me looking impatient.
“Do you kow if the bus is coming?” she asked.
I turned and looked down the street, “Err. No. I am sure it will be here soon.”
“You that strange girl from next door aren’t you?”
Mad people have so little tact. “Yes. That’s me….strange girl.”
“You have our bin.” she said forcefully.
“You Dad mixed them up last week, you have our bin. What are you going to do about it?”
“Errr…ok. I’ll change them round I guess.”
“You do that!”
There was then a long pause, where she went back to looking up the street, before turning back to me and asking, “You know Tony L at number 45?”
I nodded slowly.
“He a tosser,” she continued matter of factly, and then noted the bus was coming, “Oh thank God. It’s here. See? See!”
“Yeah I see it.”
As the bus pulled up and the doors flapped open, she turned to me before getting on, and taking into account I was at my most punky on that particular day, she said to me, “You should consider less make up. You are a pretty girl.”
She got on the bus and since then I have not spoken to her. Mostly I just get annoyed at the prolonged hoovering on a Saturday and Sunday morning, which on more than one occasions as caused me to shout from my crib, “Stop fucking hoovering already!” My Mum always collars me about it, “Lon, please don’t shout at the neighbours ok?” Adding on of her favorite phrases, “It’s not very lady like y’know.” Lady like? What the hell is that? Absent from my vocabulary is what it is.
It’s the same with my Grandad, although he always employs such archaic phrases with a wicked twinkle in his eye, like he knows my Faustian trysts are the complete antithesis of the Austenite social niceities. Marry Mr Darcy? I don’t think so. Jump Mr Darcy’s bones? I am there, with a bottle of tequila, a pack of cigs and some condoms! My Grandad, the only grown up that I come close to divulging some glimpses of my tangled personal relationships, will say things like, “So you plan to woo this gentleman then?” or “Are you and him courting yet?” It is strange how when dressed up in the language of a 19th century novel, even the most sordid acts can be recast in a heroic and noble light. My Grandad makes me feel like I am on some grand quest, conquering foe after foe in the search for the perfect intimate moment. Finally into the lair of the the on who claims to be incorruptible; it shall take all your womanly charms to arouse his carnal desires fair maiden.
My Mum and I have just started talking again. When we have had a bad argument for a while we don’t talk and then we leave each other notes. The last one to me read
“Sandwiches in the fridge. REMEMBER we have a social engagement at the weekend and you still need to buy a nice dress. You CANNOT go in jeans or one of your skirts. Pick up Michael from Grans please. Mum xxx”
We are going to a wedding at the weekend. One of my Dad’s idiot brothers is marrying some chav from Doncaster. It’s his second marriage and fourth kid already. Sometimes when I look around my family and my estate, I get this kind of uncontrollable throwback support for some good old fashioned eugenics. By letting fuckwits breed we are adding to our carbon footprint and national debt, whilst simultaneously lowering the average intelligence. My Mum has to recast me for these weddings as Little Ms Jane Bennett; some family feud that started over who got some carriage clock as part of an inheritance, or some such shit, means I cannot give any hint of delinquency or rebellion. My Mum will tug me into these little pockets of well to do female relatives and introduce me, “Oh Lon you remember Aunty such and such and your second cousin…”. Oh, but here is the fly well and truly in the ointment this time; I am legally entitled to drink now.
Before we started communicating via post-sticks, my Mum dropped on me, out of the blue, that our neighbour, the husband that is, was suffering from Alzeheimers. She has been talking to the couples daughter seemingly, who had been on the verge of tears as she related this news to my Mum. I suddenly felt that deep cold pity for Mrs Hooverville; you know the kind of pity you get where you feel guilty afterwards because you judge it to be an inauthentic emotional spasm? It’s a projected pity. It made me feel sick because its the same feeling I get whenever I see an ex-friend of mine who was crippled in an accident. I was not responsible, but something makes me feel like I should be.
Now every small event is magnified. I see Mrs H struggling through her front door, burdened down with shopping from Lidl and I immediatly feel guilty, sad and pull of pity. I have been thinking of N quite a bit since my Mum told me this news and what happened to him. It is strange how completely unconnected things can stir up emotions. I have started wearing less make up, I check the bins to make sure my Dad has not mixed them up and I smile and nod at her when I see her. What else can I do?