In our street, when someone buys a new car they tend to ‘forget’ to park it in a more sensible place than on the street. No placing it in the little driveway up to the garage doors where the brick garden walls obscure the view. Nope, they put it there in the street to be seen by everyone nearby.

It was not a deliberate thing to place the old appliances in the street. Honestly, we needed some room to move things around in the garage. That room came into existence by keeping the little driveway up to the garage door clear of cars, and appliances.

Once we had reshuffled all the junk inside the garage, most of it which are left-over from when Mark’s parents lived here, we could move everything in there. But by then, our old appliances had stood on the street for an hour, and the neighbours had noticed.

Of course they had noticed. And I bet each one of them thought to themselves, “Oh there’s Colin and Mark showing off that they’ve bought a new kitchen”. The neighbourhood association Chairman, who have tried to convince us to join for as long as we have lived here, came over to chat.

That is certain proof that the phones are going warm in the neighbourhood Big Brother system. Thankfully, the Neighbourhood association have given up attempts to assimilate us and merge our unique identity with their own. Resistance was not futile, in this case.

Whenever one of our neighbours start to work on the outside of their houses, there’s a lemming train of unfit people zigzagging toward the tool shed. If somebody buys something new – like a wheel barrow, a new hedge trimmer, or a new lawn mower – there will soon be a small boom in local garden supply shops.

I have this theory, and it is that when Mark and I have this new kitchen now, Mark’s brick-laying employer – who has a more general house improvement boutique than just bricks – will rob me of my husband for days as the neighbours attempt to keep up with us. With a bit of luck, we could finance another week in Crete – if we play our cards right.

Tomorrow, Mark will start to install the rest of the appliances. We have the new fridge up and running, so that our fresh food won’t spoil over night. We can drag this out so that the neighbours, like Pavlovian dogs, get into a home improvement frenzy. Dad will be pleased since that will generally drag the property values up along the whole street.

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