Love thy neighbour

For what do we live, but to make sport for our neighbours, and laugh at them in our turn? (Jane Austen)

Dear Mr and Mrs Landlord

I spotted your advert in Country Life and my lady wife has urged me to get a wriggle on and throw our hats in the ring to bag this plum of a rental.

We are very eager to arrange a viewing at your charming sounding house with its position on the ring road and handy access to Middlesbrough Junction. And it is even more exciting that our potential new landlords (aka your lovely selves!) would be living right next door, so we are keen to make a good impression!

We have recently had to move out of our lodgings abruptly due to a misunderstanding about a septic tank. That the so-called ‘neighbours’ suggested to the really quite officious noise abatement office that my son (who has, as yet undiagnosed ADHD, self-defined borderline narcissistic personality disorder, and, we strongly suspect, unresolved anger management issues but who has actually really been trying, since being thrown out of primary school and hence why spending all his days at home, to regulate his shouting and not to do it in the garden after eleven at night) was not actually genuinely practicing for the semi-final of Young Musician of the Year with his didgeridoo but – and here I quote –“was wilfully making parp noises with an unplayable instrument down the plug hole of the ensuite knowing full well that the sound would carry all the way to our master bedroom” was a vile slur and quite literally almost a long way from the truth.

Our other son, bless him, has a tin ear we find, but I do think it’s important for children to express themselves and not to feel inhibited by outdated social norms which insist that violin playing can’t be music unless actually played in tune. That is unduly restrictive and anyway, repetition is what children need to do and carving out ‘Wassa matter you hey’ every few minutes is helping develop his latent creativity which we feel sure will emerge once he’s done a little more practice and his Tourette’s settles a bit. Obviously the dirty protest and the unfortunate business of the gumming up of the aforementioned septic tank with an industrial quantity of rosin has slightly put the brakes on his progress but he has recently been showing an enthusiasm for the sousaphone, if not yet an aptitude.

My wife sadly lost her job a few months ago. It was all a storm in a teacup of course as there was nothing remotely untoward about the Love Your Labia workshops she was running in her lunch hour when she was the bookkeeper at the old people’s home (or diversely-aged people with longevity issues, as we probably have to call them in these politically correct days!). It is true that she was not technically qualified as the certificate for her D.Clit (she doesn’t half give me the evil eye when I call it that) hadn’t yet come through from the Federal University of Kenton, Delaware. There had been a small misunderstanding with the University over the matter of a refused credit card payment but it was all sorted out and we are very grateful for the existence of Mr Platonov’s money loan service at the Nisa supermarket in Cheshunt.

But my wife is not one to rest on her laurels! She has been exploring her hobbies which, among many many interests, include freestyle DIY. She likes nothing better than firing up her circular saw and setting-to with a pile of wood, some drills, a claw hammer and Magic FM turned up to eleven. She is also a seasoned collector and has a keen eye for things which might have been overlooked in skips or delivery vans with their back doors open. Space has always been limited wherever we have lived but we’ve found that neighbours are ever so generous about us sharing their front gardens when my wife’s collection of vintage car parts threatens to overwhelm our own modest dwellings. And due to her facility with electrics (correspondence course. Thank you again, Delaware!) we love to bring our permanent display of Christmas lights wherever we move to. Our aim is to get into the Guinness Book of Records with the sheer quantity of merriment – well, it’s a talking point in a neighbourhood isn’t it – but we’ve agreed we might lose the mooning Santa since its spark plug went and his trousers were set permanently to down.

As a family we like nothing better than practical jokes and we’ve often brought laughter and bonhomie to our ‘hood with endless games of Knock Down Ginger. And popping over to borrow a bradawl and settling down with a cuppa for a good three hour chinwag with the folks next door is my wife’s other favourite past time, when she’s not retuning her 1950s Bugatti in the front porch.

Your advert says No Students and that’s fine as it’s only my wife who has any sort of truck with formal education. I had my schooling on the mean streets and if the language gets a bit fruity, and the shouting a bit penetrating, there’ll be no hard feelings if you just want to bang on the wall. That’s what living semi-detached is all about!

We do identify as Spiritual and sometimes hold meetings in our home which can get quite intense when all 50 of us start speaking in tongues at the same time. During worship sessions we often like to offer a soul cleansing combination of Primal Scream therapy and the Love Your Labia workshops (we always put a colourful poster in the window and on local lampposts advertising our highly relevant and localised monthly topics – The Big O in a Post Brexit Rhyl; Goat-love: a taboo too far?; and Whither Anal? To name only a few of our most popular).

We’d always let you know in advance of one of our gatherings and you’d of course be welcome to drop in, but bear in mind that every other Thursday is our swinging ‘at home’ so ululating is postponed usually till the following Wednesday. Sometimes, however, we just need to relax, unwind and go out for the evening. We really like nothing better than a slap up meal followed by a spot of dogging in a local lay by.

Finally we come to dogs of the four footed kind! We don’t have any, you’ll be pleased to hear, but we do have a goat. She’s terribly friendly and if you don’t mind the rather ‘country’ scent of her (very useful) manure, I’m sure you won’t find her any sort of trouble. The mischievous little blighter is always knocking down garden fences and helping herself to the neighbours’ kitchen garden but you have to laugh. Rascal! She is genuinely a member of the family and often shares the marital bed.

So this is us! As the great bard of Salford, William Shakespeare, memorably wrote: “Neighbours, should be there for one another; that’s when good neighbours become good friends”. We think you’ll find us the perfect tenants and we’re just dying to move in.

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