14 March, 2006

Folk tales

I have no idea who my new neighbours are. Where I used to live in Liverpool was the kind of place where you couldn't help but get to recognise the same faces, the same comings and goings, above all the same sounds as people left for work and returned at precisely the same time every day. Here I haven't a clue what's going on, who lives where, or even if the people I see from my window actually live here at all.

Unexplained bangs, rumbles and clatter echo up the stairwell at most hours, though mercifully it goes very quiet come nighttime. From what I can hear, I'm guessing I'm in the minority by dint of having English as my first language. Unlike before I'm living at the top of a three floor block rather than the bottom, which is just as well as the view from here (across the North London skyline) is just slightly more favourable than that down below (an assortment of extractor fans). A Chinese restaurant nonetheless does its best to pump the air outside full of potent frying smells at the most inappropriate hours of the day, something that panicked me so much when I first arrived that I over-populated the flat with Tesco air freshners. I'm not used to living in a place where, if you open the windows, you let fresh air out rather than in.

It all adds up to a rather chastening conundrum of faces and places, none of whom have the slightest interest in me or my business, but who can't help but call attention to themselves by virtue of - to my eyes - their complete indifference to their surrounding environment. What goes on outside their windows, outside their lives, doesn't amount to a thing. Yet ironically it's this which amounts to so much for me.

Still, I'll quite understand if I pass my entire time here without exchanging a word with any of my neighbours. Not even a friendly wave each morning.


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