They can be a thorn in your side or angels in disguise; love ‘em or hate ‘em we all have neighbours. The welcome additional family member that supplies a sunshine word with that heaven-sent cup of tea. If you’re lucky they can become an integral part of your kinfolk that share in your celebrations and commiserate in hard times. As the years pass, their clans will grow alongside yours and best of all; they don’t live with you!
Alternatively, your life can be made into a living hell with petty arguments over boundaries, shared parking spaces, noise levels and other inconsequential incidents. Minor irritants that if untreated become serious issues and the home that you cherish, a prison. Niggling squabbles over trivial matters soon become unsurpassable mountains and the easy friendships that you used to enjoy, history within moments.
We were lucky in Turkey with most of our neighbours who were always on hand to assist with various disasters from water infections, to burnt culinary offerings and language misunderstandings. Nothing lifted your spirits as much as coming home after a day working in the shop to find a box of home-grown vegetables left on your patio. Our Turkish neighbours always kept a respectful distance except to exchange the usual pleasantries, however, it was hard not to find their brown-eyed curious children endearing; and they were always ready to join us for a dip in the sea or a walk along the seafront. It was indeed a comfort to know that there was always someone just over the back fence if ever needed.
Both my sister and I have grown up alongside our neighbours’ offspring sharing many an adventure. One incident in particular stands out; when I at the age of nine together with one of my childhood friends took refuge in his parents’ cellar; again to smoke an illicit cigarette. We hid amongst his elder brother’s pile of confiscated girlie magazines and a couple of bottles of moonshine rum; no doubt smuggled back from Jamaica on one of their family visits. As children we had no concept of the consequences of mixing alcohol and a lit match in close proximity. When the inevitable happened, we scrambled to safety for fear that we would be discovered for the tobacco transgression and subsequent aftermath. When the fire brigade had eventually contained the fire; my neighbours and the fire officer were confused and bewildered about the improvised incendiary device found in their cellar. It has become the stuff of legends and still recounted at family parties these many years later. My childhood friend is now a fireman; obviously trying hard to make amends for our juvenile misdemeanour with the Molotov cocktail.
Whichever way you look at it neighbours can be a blessing or a curse, depending on where you live!