I admit it. I’m a curtain twitcher. I love to observe what’s going on around our home so now that the weather is nice in London Town, I frequently find myself hanging out of our front window, watching the changing colours in the sky and observing people on the street. Most of the time I see people ensconced in routine: walking to or from the tube station, perhaps strolling with a toddler in a pushchair or taking a daily run. Recently, however, there’s been a bit of naughtiness going on. Blame it on the weather or something in the water, but things are afoot in our neighbourhood and as soon as I put my head out the window, more and more often I’m forced to retract it, like a tortoise retreating into its shell.
Here are some of the sights of the past week:
- First up, the couple attempting to copulate against the railings on the opposite side of the street. It didn’t look very comfortable, but at least the girl’s skirt was short enough to ease their fumbling efforts. A lot of giggling went on. I think possibly too much tequila had been consumed (with the worms) making their coordination a lot more Mister McGoo than erotic. Eventually, they gave up and stumbled along the street, bouncing from railing to car and woops, into the occasional tree.
- Then there was the couple who got out of their car on Sunday, only for Him to reach into Her top and pull out one rather large breast for full public viewing. Cue Epic gasp. What is the world coming to? I suppose I shouldn’t be worried. The owner of the breast certainly wasn’t. She jiggled and laughed as if she’s quite used to having her front flashed around by a pair of male hands in broad daylight.
- A prize goes to curly-haired surfer type who decided to use our communal bin for urinary firing practice one weekend lunchtime. I had no desire to watch him relieve himself so did the tortoise thing, but when I looked out again after a couple of minutes, he was still there, happily peeing away. Boy, his bladder must have been full! No wonder he couldn’t wait.
Apart from the above randomness, I also see neighbours and locals going about their daily routines. There is a couple living opposite us who always iron in front of the TV on a Sunday night. Further along, a swarthy man has moved into a bare flat with no curtains and one of those dangling naked lightbulbs that signifies transience and detachment. He still hasn’t hung curtains or found a shade for that bulb, but he does have a TV because he sits with a bottle of beer watching football whenever there’s an interesting match. I know that it’s football because he cheers when goals are scored, doing that air-punching thing that sports enthusiasts are so good at. Apart from the football nights, he seems very alone.
Out on the street I see a sad-looking man with grey moustache walking his Yorkie as he puffs on a mini cigar. Every time I see him I ask myself the same questions: does he live alone? Or is the dog an excuse to escape the confines of a non-smoking household? He never smiles and it worries me, even though it shouldn’t. I don’t even know this person so why does he make me frown?
Best of all, though, are the trees. Our street is lined with mature, deciduous trees by which you can track the seasons. In the autumn, their leaves brown and fall, sticking to the footpath in a slippery mess or piling up at the base of their trunks. The whole street turns brown in autumn. Then, by winter, the leaves have gone completely so you can see more of the buildings and trees and people, but the bare branches are a sad sight. Spring is the best time of year for the trees – they sprout leaves at an astonishing speed so a street that was recently so red with brick facades is now red AND green with new growth. Then, in the summer, the street is an entire sea of waving green and we can no longer see our neighbours across the street, nor they us. On the hottest of days, the trees cast a dappled shade across our front room, preventing us from turning into a sauna. They’re a real blessing, but even blessings lose their leaves, it seems, so come October, we’re back to living on a long, brown street.
All this talk of the neighbourhood makes me smile as I remember a postcard I gave to my mother. It shows a couple of old crones of the blue rinse brigade and has the caption
“God sees everything but the neighbours miss nothing.”