Here is an old lady in my street. She is 87,she was evacuated as school girl in the War, followed her husband around the country and worked for many y ears as a school teacher. Her family have been serious property owners in Putney for three generations. Her daughter and son keep an eye on her and see her regularly but after two strokes she rarely goes out. Many days she has no company but her radio and TV. So despite not being the most interesting of people I spend half an hour a week with her. Heaven beckons.
Anyway the other week she told me it was her birthday the following Monday. I took the hint and a card was purchased and delivered. That weekend I saw her neighbour a lively yummy mummy with her kids in the local park I asked did she know it was her neighbour’s birthday. That horrible woman she cried, intensely unpleasant she continued.
Given our suburban lives you can guess what the problem was. T he back extensions which we all build are always objected to by our neighbours since they invariably close down light access. So it was. But worse the old lady wouldn’t let the young family build on her ex outside loo’s wall. So they had to build a smaller and more expensive extension They complained that she should be more sympathetic as she lived alone and they were bursting in their house. She replies that as a widow she is not living alone by choice. Insults were understood and battle lines drawn. There is to put mildly a froideur between the two households. Recognition is barely given. It happens.
Last week I went round to see the lady. She proudly showed me that the next door neighbour’s children had written her a little note wishing her a happy birthday. Had I been the one that had tipped them off. A delightful gesture had been made. Maybe the lovely autumn weather we are enjoying had made all things seem brighter and more beautiful all round.