Our nosy neighbours Dick and Susan are moving out! Months of curtain twitching, bitter complaining and persistent emailing is coming to an end. And secretly, I’m a little sad.
Apparently, the sight of fellow residents entering the communal bin area and then either a: not closing the bin lids properly and/or b: not closing the gate properly (hello half-job husband!) has tipped Susan over the edge.
Dick has invested in a special pair of heavy-duty gloves to tackle the problem, which I’ve rebranded ‘Dick’s mitts’. Down-in-the-dumps Dickie seems to spend his days rummaging around in the bin compound – mitts donned – while Susan looks on from her perch in the window, barking the occasional instruction.
Sanctimonious Sue sent an email telling me how glad she is to be leaving.
‘Someone had a party Sat night, with noise in the hall and distant party noises; I think it must have been 17,’ she wrote.
‘I complained in a very moderate way to one of the friends arriving about parking all over the front of the building and got sharp words in return.’
She added: ‘You may not be surprised to hear that all these comings and goings have reminded us – not that we really needed it – how glad we will be to leave here.’
Down the road at Caffe Nero, my interaction with retiree-at-large Malcolm has reached new heights.
Malcolm seems to be under the misguided belief that I am some sort of literary don. He keeps coming over and throwing names of Dylan Thomas’s poems at me like some kind of bizarre quiz. It’s making me very nervous and I generally have to keep smiling and nodding along each time he mumbles, ‘What do you think of Under Milk Wood?’
Malcolm kept mentioning that he wanted to get rid of his beloved collection of classic novels and did I know anyone who would like them? It took my a while to cotton on but eventually, the husband said, ‘I think Malcolm wants you to have his books.’
The next time I saw him, I told Malcolm that I would love to take ownership of them.
For the next two weeks, Malcolm drove around with the books weighing heavy in the boot of his car, waiting to see me.
The books now have a new home on our bookshelf; they’re actually really nice little leather-bound tomes. I like them.
But it hasn’t ended there. I mentioned to Malcolm that I was thinking about visiting Majorca and the next day, he appeared with another box – this time stuffed with literature about his favourite Spanish island.
I’m fearful that Malcolm is gradually emptying his house of his worldly possessions and foisting them onto me – the ultimate clutter-phobe.
He also keeps harping on about his favourite hotel in Deia. He’s mentioned it so many times that I actually think we might now have to stay there when we visit Majorca this summer – just to keep him happy.
Over in the corner of Caffe Nero, Porridge-Loving Pensioner has taken to reading a selection of bonkbusters!
Lately, he’s been completely engrossed in Jackie Collins’ Vendetta, which rather ambitiously bills itself as a nonstop, action-packed tale of sex, betrayal, drugs, intrigue, and murder.
Porridge-Loving Pensioner has a new routine: he arrives by taxi at 7.30am, clutching his Co-Op carrier bag crammed with supplies. By 7.40am, he’s already on his first pot of porridge. At midday, he shuffles off to the pub next door before returning for one last pot of porridge and departing by taxi, circa 4pm.
One sunny day the other week, Porridge-Loving Pensioner went a bit crazy. He hobbled over to me and whispered that a strawberry milkshake was coming my way. I just nodded and smiled back at him, thinking, ‘he’s finally gone doolally.’
Then, 10 minutes later, a woman appeared in the doorway with a tray full of strawberry milkshakes and Porridge-Loving Pensioner started handing them out to all the Caffe Nero customers – me included!
He was the Milky Bar Kid gone rogue.
To this day, I have no idea where the milkshakes or the woman even came from. And I’m a little unsure on the policy of slurping non-Nero shakes on their premises.
It’s been a couple of weeks now Porridge-Loving Pensioner’s Milkshake Moment of Madness. He’s now retreated back into his corner to tuck into Jackie Collins’ latest bestseller.
The other day, I ordered my coffee and sat down with my laptop across from him.
There was a sudden scuffle from behind and an avalanche of Cadbury’s Eclairs landed in the table in front of me.
I turned to see Porridge-Loving Pensioner’s wizened face leaning in.
‘Friends for life,’ he said.