Comment: When good neighbours become good friends
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One of the first things most of us want to know when we find a new place to live is whether the neighbours are a nightmare. After all, the people next door or across the road can make or break an experience of living somewhere.
Who hasn’t read in horror the stories of neighbours spending years warring over a disputed boundary or overly-large hedge? None of us need that sort of stress on our doorstep.
I’ve had some amazing neighbours over the years, and some atrocious ones. When my eldest was a tiny baby, we lived next door to a teenager prone to throwing wild parties while her mum was away. The one thing you absolutely don’t want after three hours of rocking, patting and general faffing about with a newborn is some glass-shattering music blasting through her bedroom wall.
One gathering was so OTT the police were called, leaving drunk kids staggering off in all directions. Our relief that it was all over turned into abject annoyance the next day when they tried to put their mountain of empty bottles in our recycling. The cheek of it!
That was in Sydney, where all talk of good neighbours becoming good friends in the style of a certain homegrown soap was a non-starter, though we had some lovely Aussies next door at other times – including the one we moved in next to on our return to Hertfordshire, now one of my favourite friends.
The natives have been great, too. While southerners may have a reputation for being unfriendly and aloof, the best neighbours I’ve ever had have been here in Herts. On the last street we lived on, one of our lovely neighbours used to do his ironing out the front, which made for an entertaining spectacle and a great source of gossip (he didn’t miss a thing).
When we moved to our current place, our next door neighbour came over with a welcome plant in our first week, and a friendship, ahem, blossomed (the plant died, mind). A few of us now feed each other’s cats, look after spare house keys and go on the odd night out – proof that good neighbours really do become good friends.