Day 11: ‘My neighbours have become more like extended family – a comfort blanket to share our highs and lows’

Contributor: Chris:

“The wall between our gardens can only be described as the Korean demilitarized zone that splits the two countries. My two cats spend hours on the wall acting as sentries to maintain the status quo”

As my second week of shielding draws towards completion, I wanted to take stock of any major positives that have materialised as a result of our current situation. After mulling this over from many different aspects, I have decided to focus on an area that we all take for granted on a daily basis… Our Neighbours.

At first glance, my family’s relationship with our neighbours Richard and Jo may appear unchanged, but on deeper reflection it is at this point that I realise how much I have become dependent on the hour or so a day that I spend in my back garden chatting with them over the back wall (government distancing rules followed at all times).

The wall between our gardens can only be described as the Korean demilitarized zone that splits the two countries. My two cats spend hours on the wall acting as sentries to maintain the status quo. Prisoner exchanges take place every couple of days in the form of food items being left on the wall from either side ranging from something so simple as some cans of chopped tomatoes or tinned fruit, up to some Black Bomber and Colston Bassett cheeses coming my way yesterday. These small gifts give me the confidence that as a society we will get through this due to the spirit of sharing that is clear to see.

The conversation that flows comes in many forms, the usual check-ins that family both close and afar, are all healthy and safe. This topic often takes on a sensitive side as we mull over if and when we will see certain loved ones in the future, which is a difficult contemplation, but when shared with others in the same situation gives hope around this. Another topic is the disdain for the elements of capitalist greed that rears its head globally on a daily basis and always serves as an opportunity to vent some aggression verbally when required. 

The conversation always takes a comical downturn also on a daily basis. As I’m married to a Muslim, our neighbours find it hard to hide the fact that they do eat a lot of pork in their diet on a weekly basis, but this has now become a common source of humour and always leads on to discussions around what will be served for ‘our tea’ that evening. The opportunity to vilify ourselves and our partners always takes centre stage and proves that we have all reached a point where physical appearance, queens’ english and social correctness have all gone out the window.

With sport always filling a large area of my life through cricket, football and rugby, a large void has now also been left to fill. Richard and I have succeeded in this area so far through comparisons on post 1980 World vs England 11s in both football and cricket (although there have been some questionable entries so far) and I’m sure that more sports will follow. My wife and Jo share tips around garden plants regularly and on various days some plants have defected over the wall in the hope a better life. We also take note of the ever changing environment around us – the bees that have started to pollinate, the Great Tits that sit in the Buddleia teasing my cats and the roses that can be seen flowering down on Westcotes Drive allow us to look forward to the warmer months heading our way and hopefully the opportunity to spend them freely. These shared interests provide great solace when needed and provide much great relief from the large Covid-19 cloud that hangs over us.

So where would I be without my ‘neighbours over the wall’??

I think the above sentence needs to be reworded as I don’t view Richard and Jo as neighbours now rather they have become more like extended family – a comfort blanket to share our highs and lows, a communist grocery store where goods and information are shared freely, a source of freedom to express ourselves and share laughter during this period of great uncertainty.

…But also the chance to drink a shitload of coffee, tea, beer, wine and whiskey!!!

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