Tuesday, 4 September 2007

To The People I Barely Knew - Adieu!

Dovecot Towers is in a state of flux. It’s moving time, both in and out (allowing for a certain amount of shaking it all about.)

People come, and they go. On the carousel that is Rentergirl’s nomadic life, it can take ages to reach even basic nodding terms with neighbours. But don’t set any store by those halfhearted greetings; next thing you know, there are packing boxes stacked up outside your new friends flat, and surly removal men in the lift.

I will sort of miss 4pm Cigarette Girl. Living in a nearby flat, she habitually enjoyed very loud sex in the afternoon, then - giggling in her dressing gown - would hammer frantically on neighbours’ doors to beg for that post coital fag.

Snotty Boys I will not miss. They were thin, and stylish. Whenever I met them by the lift, my cheery ‘Good Morning!’ was greeted with a reluctant, terse, grunt, implying they’d require rubber gloves, a face mask, and a translator-cum-minder to converse with me. Same for the woman who actually turned her face to ignore me, but later knocked on my door in urgent need of toilet roll, whose exit I will not mourn.

Dressing Gown Weed Man was mostly harmless. He’d stand, dazed and stoned on his first floor ‘terrace’ gazing into the distance, wearing his dressing gown whatever the time of day. Apparently, his washing was persistently stolen from the line (easy to reach on the ground floor) so perhaps he was self medicating and had no clothes left.

I will not miss the man (okay, people) with terrible mental health and drink problems who used to summon help by urgently ringing door bells at all hours, but I do worry for them all.

I am nostalgic for the flat which held meetings for unconvincing transvestites/transsexuals. I was often met in the lift by muscular gentlemen in nasty dresses, asking in a gruff bass profundo which floor I required. Their progress was heartening: they eased swiftly from hefty bloke in a frock, to an elegant lady in just a few weeks. All it took was a manicure, a shave and a guided trip around Per Una at M&S

In my previous home, the neighbours were convivial. The man who made his living from car boot sales was cheery, and grateful for the junk I gave him. If he made any money from my donations, he’d give me a tenner here and there. Other neighbours varied from chatty, to protective, to mad. A few of us reached the cup of tea/borrowing a cup of sugar phase, but in this transient life, friendships are unsustainable.

In one block, Rebecca and I were the only tenants not in profitable employment as burglars or prostitutes, and neither of us had recently been released from a long term facility of any kind, so instantly we felt a bond. We once chatted amiably in the foyer, until we were threatened by another tenant, aggressively begging for money. We’d catch up when waiting at dawn for the all clear after the resident pyromaniac had set another fire, and often met in the caretaker’s office, reporting a neighbour’s door being kicked in. Rebecca and I still exchange Christmas cards.

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