I’ve been seeing quite a lot of my neighbours lately. The neighbours who live in the flat directly across the street, that is. You know, the ones who keep their curtains open all the time. I don’t know if, like me, they’re also homeworkers (how I’ve come to love this polite euphemism, which lazy folk such as myself can hide behind) but they’re home, working or not, almost as much as I’m not either.
Before stopping work, I never would have guessed at the rich world of local entertainment I was missing. Across the road, there seems to be quite a lot of them, young and old, male and female, and all largely happy to conduct much of their day-to-day business up at the big bay window, in full view of…well…me. Like the other day, when I had to put my glasses on for a better look at the baldy man jumping up and down at the window. Turns out it was a baby being jiggled on a knee.
I’d like, before you phone the police at this rather sinister example of Peeping Tom stalkerishness, to have it minuted that when I’m in my living room, I’m mostly just getting on with the lawful business of snoozing on my couch. I really don’t go out of my way to join in their home life. In fact, I would argue that they sometimes conduct their private life in quite public ways. Friends who were recently over at mine for a very respectable game of scrabble and watched Mr Overthere strip to his undies at a very leisurely, almost burlesque, pace will back me up on this. Similarly, I came home the other night to witness the same man standing bollock-naked at the brightly lit window. Shocked, I almost dropped the binoculars.
In return, I’m assuming they watch me go about my day, although I’m pretty sure I provide much less in the way of entertainment value. Tapping away on a keyboard or watching internet telly really aren’t spectator sports. Chasing a bluebottle round the living room (secretly I was dancing to Wuthering Heights , but don’t tell them that) is about as exciting as it gets round my bit. The sign at the end might read One Way, but for me and my neighbours, this is a two-way street, and we’re all quite happy to stare and stare alike.