So, tonight I’m staring blankly into the fridge wondering what to have for dinner, when E1 from next door comes round.
Hayley, can I use your tumble drier? Ours is tumbling, but not drying.
Also, there’s men in our house… can I hang out here for a while?
Should probably tell you at this point that E1, Dirk and Jay are my new next door neighbours. They arrived 2 weeks ago from Alabama, as interns staying here for a year with a local charity, doing outreach work in the estates. They’re all my age, and they are so much fun. Anyway, the house belongs to the guy who runs the charity (who also happens to be my boss – it’s all very intertwined), and they’re still using it for their various meetings and so on. Being one who is slightly intimidated by Men And Their Meetings, myself, I’ve said to the interns that they can treat my house as theirs, and come and ‘hang out’ here any time they need to escape.
So, tonight, I told E1 to make herself at home, watch TV, get something to eat – you know, whatever she wanted to do. As she was coming in with her washing, my phone rang, and I retreated to my room to take the call. I heard various noises throughout my conversation, but it was a fairly intense, emotional discussion, so I didn’t pay much attention to what was going on downstairs. An hour and a half later I emerged to find all 3 Americans, Red (my ex fiance – you will discover in time that my life is complicated), and 2 local (stoned) teenagers, all crammed into my living room, with – inexplicably – 2 guitars, a keyboard, and a poetry book of some description.
The cat ran off in the middle of it all. The front gate fell off its hinges, the electricity meter started to wail for more money, and every time I looked, someone was in the kitchen making coffee. Jay disappeared at one point and as I happened to glance out of the window I spotted him creeping along my garden path in a most suspicious manner. Then I realised he’d spotted a stray dog roaming outside, and also my cat, who isn’t smart enough to know that she’s meant to be scared of dogs. Kat was looking like she wanted to go and ask the dog for a cuddle, the dog was looking like it wanted to put ketchup on her, and Jay suddenly swooped in like Superman and lifted my gormless pet out of harm’s way. He is now my hero for this reason. Well, that, and the fact that when he returned he simplified all my favourite songs on the keyboard so that I could accompany him with my guitar.
It was a very strange – but fun – evening. I realised I was living in a sort of parallel universe when Red wandered in at around 12.30am after having had a cigarette, and, in answer to the question “What’s Dirk doing outside?”, replied “Oh, Dirk is walking up and down the garden wall.”
And he was.
It’s 2am now, and I still haven’t had my dinner. I think I might go to bed.