Our neighbour hates us. Not in a non-talking, tepid, couldn't care less, un-neighbourly way. She actually hates us. Or to be more specific, she hates my partner , the SO (Significant Other).
I can't remember the reason why but hey!, what's a little fire and smoke between friends? (have you never put a whole, oiled fish on a barbecue?) What's wrong with James Brown and Funky People - Lyn Collins, Fred Wesley and the JBs, Maceo and the Macks - gently filling the atmosphere between our two houses at a very reasonable decibel? Not 12, nor 11, but 9 and a half on the ampy dial.
But ha ha ha all joking aside, this is serious neighbours-from-hell stuff. Down the doctor's, where the SO went for some ladyproblem advice, the doc says - sotto voce - you're a bit of a hell raiser, no? The SO, quiet as a church mousetype person (and that's really true) says "what?" in that "WHAT?" kind of way but a little quieter in case the gossipy receptionist got to hear and spreads it all over the shop.
"Your neighbour was in for some (insert ladyproblem here) and I asks her what she's stressed out about and among a lot of worky things and so on she says "that bitch next door"". At which point the SO - particularly in relating the story to me later over dinner, having already told me over the phone, goes that puce colour that you either get from ladyproblems or apparently from badneighbourangst.
So I try to remember what it's all about and I can't. And the SO can't be bothered, even though she's only half puce now. Lilac, actually.
Now the neighbour's son is a really nice guy, very cool, always smiles, says good morning and one night, when totally lathered, actually mumbles "sorry" as he tries to get in his front door. Either because he's pissed or because of his un-neighbourly mum. I like to think the latter because he's nice and human.
SHE is even nice to me sometimes, but mainly because she forgets who I am and after smiling in that blonde seductive ladyway, scowls because an inner voice has just told her that I'm that bloke who lives with the BITCH NEXT DOOR!
So I says to the SO, in an attempt to pour oil on etc, that she's not that bad. Particularly in the summer. "Woddumean?" says the SO pretending that she's attending to some kitchen or cat thing.
"Well she gets her kit off"
"what?" she says, ever so quietly.
"She gets her kit off"
At which point there's a small discussion during which I helpfully explain that no, I am not a peeping tom, nor am I a pervert, nor am I spying on our unfriendly neighbour. It's just that from the bathroom window, where one has to stand to do bathroom things, one is overlooking the private garden of the neighbour and one cannot help oneself occasionally but look down, and there, with all her ladybits, of which there are many resplendently on show, is the neighbour reading a book. In the sunshine. On her back. etc etc.
Lilac momentarily changes back to puce until the SO realises that you can't actually help but look into the garden (and see, well, everything, so to speak). This is not a comfortable conversation because I try not to display any sneaking admiration at all for the neighbour from hell, and must especially erase any thought from my mind that is likely to induce a flicker of a smile for the wrong reason. I know when my face is being scrutinised. I know when my voice tone is being measured. One doesn't need polygraphs in a relationship.
And then the Fedex man, whom we like as much as the UPS man and the postlady, enters the fray and asks the other day after the third attempt at delivering a box who the 'scowly tart' next door is and after I tell him that she's the neighbour (not really very helpful, I agree, he could have worked that out himself I guess, what with him working for Fedex) says that she refuses to take our parcels in on the basis that, and I quote exactly here. "I don't talk to them. Can't stand them" as if this was of any interest to the Fedex man at all.
It was then I remembered that she feeds the pigeons, which I hate, has a big nasty cat which hates our small lovely cat, drives an ugly-as-sin car and wears clothes totally unappealing to man or woman or even beast.
So, solidarity being the order of the day, I decide to hate her back.
And even though she's started showing off her bits on the roof terrace now - I blame global warming for this - I will continue to hate her until she apologises, her cat dies, or she sells that car. Or possibly just takes in a parcel or two.