A good neighbour is a fellow who smiles at you over the back fence, but doesn’t climb over it.

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!

cottage

59 thoughts on “A good neighbour is a fellow who smiles at you over the back fence, but doesn’t climb over it.

  1. You are totally right about good vs. bad neighbors (and of course about Molotov cocktails haha). Right now I don’t even know my neighbors, because we were warned they would be weird (which apparently means anything between being just weird and members of the maffia) 🙂

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  2. Ah, neighbours! They are a fine thing in need. Curiosity can be their damnation 😉 luckily our nearest are almost a mile away – we say luckily because our menagerie would make us your neighbours from hell 😀

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  3. Love this post … so well written … I share my part of the building with 7 other families and none of them from Sweden. In my entrance is there 8 apartment and I’m the only Swede. My neighbours comes and ring on the door, with cakes .. they want to borrow things .. and they look after my green plants when I’m travelling. My neighbour comes from Iran, Croatia, Thailand, Iraq … all immigrants. When I was sick they all worried and cared about my wellbeing – that would never been if my neighbours had been all Swedish. I’m so lucky. Nobody is looking over the fence here on Östergatan in Landskrona.

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    • Hellooooooo – still not getting your notifications so am going to “unfollow” and then “follow” – missing my music fixes! I love the idea of living next door to people from lots of different cultures, lucky you!

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      • Helloooo …. you have to tick the little box under replays to that you want to recieve up coming posts on email. When you replay to any of my posts two tickboxes appear under the replay box – tick the last one.

        Maybe you all ready know that.

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  4. Haha. That incendiary device story is very funny (in retrospect). Reminds me of my Mom’s story about burning the curtains with her first ciggie try. I live in an apartment building (60 units) and as for neighbors, I have mostly good ones, but whoever buys the apartment on my right (and there have been 4 different ones so far) always seems to cause trouble—from throwing rancid cottage cheese on my door, to noise problems (current). Fortunately he now has a girlfriend who has seen my side of it. I hope they don’t break up 🙂

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  5. Reminds me of a time when I set a pillow on fire by resting a lamp on it (under the blanket) so I could finish a book after bedtime. I managed to flush the burnt remains down the toilet… without clogging the appliance. Amazing luck there! 😉

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  6. We like her but not him (but don’t tell him!) When our son was at home he used to appear at the door with an angry expression- the guitar playing was too loud. We could hardly retaliate that his swearing at his children was too loud (but it was!) Now that our son has left (more or less!) strange grumbly noises come from next door- not sure if it’s music or some kind of internet game?
    Don’t neighbours just exist to teach you tolerance? (we like ALL the others)

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  7. Your words about neighbours are so true, and while we all have expectations of our neighbours we have to remember ergo we are neighbours too. I’ve been lucky with neighbours, sometimes extraordinarily so, never had any terrible ones but there are a few occasions when I think I could have been a better neighbour. I have one funny anecdote… when I first left home I shared a small townhouse with another female work colleague and there was always someone, sometimes lot of someones, coming and going. We had a twitchy curtain older lady neighbour across the narrow way, and I think on the early Sunday morning when she saw what seemed like the equivalent to one of the local football teams emerge from our front door after crashing on the floors (yes, truly) after a Saturday night party she probably had to pick herself up off the floor and have a brandy 🙂

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  8. Love the title! We have great neighbours. Funnily enough I was involved in an incident in the park over the road when I was about 10 which necessitated the fire brigade being called. I never did confess to my mother that it was us playing with matches.

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  9. I grew up in remote rural New Zealand where neighbours were a few miles away, the good ones used to phone ahead to warn if the Jehova’s Witnesses were on their way (whereupon mum would race around and draw all the curtains like we weren’t at home)!

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  10. What great Turkish neighbors you had! American neighbors tend to keep mostly to themselves. We are all about respecting people’s privacy. I barely know any of the neighbors on my street and my family has lived here for 11 years!

    However neighbors in Spain–that’s another story. We had some really weird neighbors last year whose cat lived in the patio abutting our apartment. I was never home when this happened but it seemed the cat figured out how to move the screen on our window and break into our apartment!! My roommate was terrified when she came home to find an aggressive cat stalking around! When she confronted the neighbors about it, they told her he sometimes did it from time to time and that they kept it to “kill mice.” Some old confused man (who may possibly have been a hoarder) lived there with a younger woman, we think she might have been his caretaker and took advantage of him. She told us the old guy liked to sometimes spy on people in our apartment (!!!)… I dunno, they were just so strange. One time the cops showed up and knocked on our door, asking if we had heard yelling coming from next door. Never figured out what that was about. Can’t say I miss that apartment at all, what with the weirdo neighbors, cockroaches, and mold. Did I mention it was in the basement? 😀

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    • So what was it about the apartment that attracted you in the first instance? Sounds like the whole building attracted weird and wonderful tennants. Still I bet you’ll have some great stories to tell your grandchildren about the crazy apartment in Spain

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      • Mostly the location! It was in a great neighborhood. My roommate and I were desperate for one and it looked semi decent. The cockroaches didn’t appear until a few months before we moved out (so we were cockroach free most of the year) and we eventually stopped hearing the cat meow (dunno what happened to it). But yeah, no more basement apts for this gal!

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  11. Neighbors or neighbours in the UK, I say hello but run away, I want nothing to do with them.
    You surely know what it means to be the foreigner neighbor, they as silly things that you don’t wanna answer. Funny how you’ve been able to keep that story a secret all this time, your friend could tell it on his retirement when they ask him what inspired to become a firefighter.

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  12. SO so true and so beautifully written! Love he shenanigan’s especially with the fire officer! I once dated my neighbor – it was GREAT while we were together. And i was DRAMA HORRIBLE when we split. Haha. but that’s how life goes, hah? Brilliant post!

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  13. All of my adult homes have been secluded/without neighbors. I like it that way. As Edward Abbey put it, “if you can’t piss in the front yard you live too close to town”

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  14. We have neighbours across the street who like to play their music at high levels on the weekend. I’ve not said anything – for some reason I’ve become anti-confrontational – just keep hoping I’ll see a “for rent” sign across the road. Neighbour disputes often make it on the TV here! We have lovely neighbours next door though – this is all in the outer suburbs of Melbourne, Australia. I think living with neighbours miles away would be great sometime!

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  15. Whether good or bad, I still prefer to have neighbors. 🙂

    Your childhood story made me think twice about these firemen. Could they be guilty of causing fire too? 🙂

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  16. Pingback: The Show Must Go On (Part One) | Crazy Train To Tinky Town

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