The Neighbours from Hell. And Heaven.


Nick Youngson CC BY-SA 3.0 Alpha Stock Images

Okay, yet another post that has nothing to do with sci-fi, fantasy or writing. It’s just, I’ve got a problem. I admit, it’s not exactly a big problem but, still, it’s a problem. I’ve got new neighbours.

Don’t leap to conclusions. The truth is, the new neighbours are a God-send. They are a million times preferable to the nightmare family that used to live next-door. Consider: the previous family threw rubbish in my garden; the kid pulled up flowers and, while still holding them in his hands, denied that he had done i; I’d say “hello” to the mom and she’d turn and walk away without acknowledging my presence. You can understand why I celebrated on the day they left.

In contrast, the new family is lovely. We chat over the garden fence. The grandparents give me useful gardening tips. The kids are incredibly polite and happy.

And therein lies the problem—the kids. It is summer and that means that the next-door kids are outside. A lot. As in sun up to sun down. In midsummer, I get almost nineteen hours of daylight and, I swear, those kids are out in the back garden the entire time, bouncing away on their trampoline. They never stop, not even for breakfast, lunch or dinner. It’s like they’re mainlining Red Bull or Irn-Bru (I mean the old, full-sugar version—not the mamby-pamby, post-sugar-tax stuff).

“Really?” you say. “That’s your problem? They’re happy, they’re friendly, they’re polite; they sound like great neighbours. Get a grip, you whiney, middle-class wimp!”

When you’re done feeling morally superior, take a moment to imagine sitting in your garden and reading while, next door, the kids make a game of jumping on their trampoline and, at the top of each bounce, shouting your name. Not once, not twice but every single time they jump. “Hi Chris!” “Hi Chris!” “Hi Pips!” “Hi Chris!” “Hi Chris!” “Hi Pips!” “Hi Chris!” “Hi Chris!” “Hi Pips!” over and over and over. (The youngest is barely three and can’t say my name properly. Don’t you dare tell me it’s cute!)

Every time I go outside, I am greeted with a three-hello barrage of “Hi Chris!” “Hi Chris!” “Hi Pips!” And I do mean every time. I take the kitchen garbage out and it’s, “Hi Chris!” “Hi Chris!” Hi Pips!” I go in, pick up the recycling and, thirty seconds later, come out again to, “Hi Chris!” “Hi Chris!” Hi Pips!” My wife tells me I forgot an empty jar, so I get it and come out again to, “Hi Chris!” “Hi Chris!” Hi Pips!”

I am under constant assault from an insidious form of friendly fire. Each salvo of happiness blows more of the crenellations off the carefully-constructed fortress of my personal, lovingly-crafted dystopia. Relentless mortar-fire of laughter pounds away at the bleak pessimism which I have cultivated throughout my life and threatens to instil in me a renewed faith in the fundamental goodness of humanity.

It is all so thoroughly annoying. My soul is in a quantum state; Paradise and Hell are simultaneously superimposed upon my being. It has gotten to the point that I can’t go into the garden during daylight hours anymore.

I wonder if this is how vampires are made.

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