My ideal . . . neighbour


I was in my room the other day, figuring out how to make it in this crazy world. I faced the mirror and asked loudly “M-dogg. Are you willing to go to any lengths? Is there anything you’ll stop at? Anything at all?” M-dogg shook her head slightly, but refused to make eye contact. Disheartened, I left her be and decided instead to imagine the ideal neighbour.

This language of ours (similar to English, but with an absolutely charming lilt) is missing a number of words. All day I lie, still as a resting bullfrog, my little yellow eyes darting around the gaps in our lexicon. People come to me, shyly, and explain what they need named. I blink and the list grows longer. The latest additions include a word for the moment a person pretends to look at their phone simply because everyone else at the table is looking at theirs. We also need a word for a baby’s first unreturned wave and a word for the gradual slide from curiosity to full-blown spying that occurs amongst neighbours. I’ve slid that. I may have had more hot dinners than neighbours, but the ones I have had, I watched intently. So I can tell you a thing or two, if you’ll just sit on my lap and listen a while.

It’s not in my nature to be negative, believe me. I’ve been turning frowns upside down since I entered the world – high-fiving the midwife and wise-cracking with the obstetrician as he counted my toes. “Great work with the tongs Buddy, you’re the man we want at our next barbecue, right Ma?”

However, I will put aside my upbeat personality now, and detail for you what an ideal neighbour should not be. Up we get now, to wander this cul-de-sac of neighbours best avoided. A household of troublemakers – steer clear. They cause heat and the cops could come sniffing ’round your back yard – bad news if it’s rammed full of hydroponic cash crops. Groups of teenage boys are far from ideal, by virtue of them being groups of teenage boys. Careful too of that lonely old lady, lest she make you feel simultaneously guilty about your mother and afraid of your future. Also, try not to live near anyone who ever uses the term “sexual awakening”. Now we’re done, let’s hop over the wall and never return.

My ideal neighbour needs to be on my level, party-wise. You see, when I’m not chewing on a plaque-disclosing tablet or listening to radio documentaries, I party. I throw my conservatory doors open and in flood Ireland’s brightest cultural stars. One time a guy who used to be in D-Side (the original line-up) arrived just as a girl who used to be in Bellefire (the final incarnation) was leaving!

My dream neighbour will be impressed, but not star-struck, by my stellar guest-list. He’ll be just the right amount of friendly, a Dad amount, and he’ll cut the grass without a word.

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