By Barrie Mahoney [email protected]
Barrie Mahoney was a teacher, headteacher and school inspector in the UK, as well as a reporter in Spain, before moving to the Canary Islands as a newspaper editor. He is still enjoying life in the sun as a writer and author.
There is an old saying that we get the neighbours that we deserve. I have had some lovely neighbours over the years, but there have been a few strange ones, which have left me wondering what I have done to deserve them.
Do we ever really know our neighbours? From a quick glance at the rotary clothes dryer, we know that the lady of the house next door has a liking for daring red underwear, and that the gentleman of the house likes to use his power drill early on a Sunday morning.
Goodness only knows what he is doing, but surely there are only so many holes that can be drilled in a lifetime with a Black and Decker?
We also know from the ghastly smell that wafts over from the adjoining wall, that barbecued fish is a speciality and a delight to look forward to each Saturday evening, while Wednesday afternoons is the time when mother-in-law arrives to give the house a good clean.
If we are truly honest with ourselves, many of us may admit that most of us rely on our neighbours for entertainment, as well as friendship and the occasional ‘cup of sugar’.
Over the years, I have witnessed plots and scenarios that would put Eastenders and Coronation Street to shame.
I vividly remember the dear old couple next door when we were living in the UK. Mary was a charming woman, a member of the local Women’s Institute and pillar of the community and a keen ballroom dancer, who would regularly make us delicious cakes and biscuits, and occasionally walk the dogs.
Little did we know at the time that she was planning to do away with her husband and run away with a bookmaker boyfriend, also a keen ballroom dancer, to Corfu on the proceeds.
As she was escorted from the house into a waiting police car, we realised then that Mary’s famous chocolate cake would no longer be appearing on our doorstep.
It was a supremely sad day for us all. Ballroom dancing has a lot to answer for.
Even though those “very nice people next door” or “the charming couple across the street” seem respectable enough people who happily water our pot plants for us or look after the cat when we are away, or do some shopping for us if we are sick, do we really know what goes on behind those shutters? It seems not.
A recent local news item caught my eye the other day. Apparently two men living in a neighbouring town owned very similar cars – both white Ford Fiestas.
One was slightly smarter and more importantly, a newer model, than the other and so one neighbour decided to switch the number plates from his own Fiesta for those from his neighbour’s car.
The renegade neighbour then duly parked the car as his own in the same street.
Not surprisingly, the owner of the older vehicle noticed that something was wrong and alerted the local police and told them that there was a car, identical to his own, parked in his own street. The police investigated further and noticed some cosmetic changes made to the vehicle, including new painting on the wing mirrors, a set of new hub caps, and a new tinted rear window.
The true identity of the vehicle was confirmed once the police had checked the chassis number. The police are now searching for the errant neighbour, which shouldn’t take too long as these islands are quite small.
I doubt the two men will be good neighbours for some time to come, which only goes to prove that to remain good neighbours, “Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s Fiesta”.
If you enjoyed this article, take a look at Barrie’s websites: www.barriemahoney.com and www.thecanaryislander.com or read his latest novel, Journeys and Jigsaws (ISBN: 9781843865384).