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Jan 1

Neighbourly paths

Posted on Thursday, January 1, 2009 in Family, Strange and Unusual

A quiet suburban cul-de-sac.  An old rusty hammer clangs relentlessly against plastic tubing, then drops with a clatter onto concrete below.

‘Bollocks’  I say, fed up with my quota of loose guttering.  I know the plasticky thing here is supposed to just slot neatly back into its home, but it won’t.  Its logic escapes me completely.


A tall man nearby hears my expletive and turns to find me teetering on the edge of a wooden stool and watches as my enthusiasm for DIY grows flaccid.  I pretend not to see him, having been caught in such a delicate moment, but he approaches anyway without a word or a grin.   He reaches with his six foot frame, pushes the plastic guttering far above my reach, and slots it neatly home.

“Thanks!”  I feel stupid.

He follows me inside my home, and I introduce him to TAT.   He sits on a kitchen chair with the familiarity of an old dog, and begins to regale us with local tales… stories flow from him for four hours, and whiskey is poured.  My stomach growls.

Finally he leaves, but warns us that he won’t remember any of this evening’s conversations or occurrences, nor will he know exactly who he’s waving at tomorrow when our neighbourly paths cross again.

“‘Cos of the crash, you see. No short term memory.”   He ambles back to his house and I realise that this is a sweet ticket I’ve inherited.  My imagination goes wild… the paranoia that sometimes applies to some conversations doesn’t apply to this bloke… a kind, hardworking sort of bloke, a walking encyclopedia of local ancient anecdotes with no opinion of me whatsoever because his memory of me will always be hazy.   I like him already.

And besides… he has that prophetic quality, having survived a car collision with seven souls on board, all still walking this earth.  Back in the 80’s when seat-belts and drink-driving were not issues as heavily bet into us as they are today, our new bearded neighbour had attempted to bring his mates home with a skinful under his belt in a Renault Fuego and sorely learned his mistake.


“They gave me thirty six hours” (he told us gravely) “before they would switch off my machines.  I lifted my hand with ten minutes to go.  I can’t remember it though, I can’t remember any of it.”  This chap then had to re-learn every nuance of life that we take for granted, from scratch.  He was given a second chance.  A lucky sod, or a dude with a purpose?  I’m not sure, but pretty intriguing nonetheless.

“If I did come back in the next life” he told us at one stage… “I would come back as a goldfish, to spend my days in a cow’s drinking trough, cleaning the water for them to drink.  That’s a noble profession.”


2009 should be nothing if not interesting!



Bring on the comments

  1. susan says:

    Happy New Year! What a character you’ve found, and what a treasure a storyteller is.

    Good luck with all your 2009 DIY, and I’m glad to hear it was the hammer hitting the concrete–not yourself!

  2. Holemaster says:

    Ah, the Fuego. A two door Renault 18 basically. They were cool. I like the sound of this guy. Maybe he survived to fix your gutter. Imagine it really was that, God saying… I want that nice fella to survive and fix K8s gutter because I know she’ll appreciate it more than most people. And they’ll become good friends and neighbours. And Holemaster, after drinking a shit load of wine and watching Jools, will log on for a minute and leave a reply.

  3. K8 says:

    Susan; Thanks :) Happy new year antics to you! (Speaking of hammered)

    Holemaster; I don’t use the following three letters much but if there was ever a unique time that I do, it’s now.


  4. Baino says:

    Wow, let’s hope he remembers that he’s told you his yarns before otherwise it could be Ground Hog day for the rest of your life. Lucky fellow . . although imagine the guilt he must carry along with those yarns. . .you stay safe now . . happy new year (again)

  5. Medbh says:

    K8, Happy New Year to you and the family!

  6. Interesting. Hey, beats the little sod who stole the blankie, new gaff seems smooth :-)

  7. Happy New Year! I’m resplendent on the sofa, just woken up (well, a couple of hours ago), walked the dog, no hangover
    – you’re right, 2009 promised to be great craic!

    You can tell a lot about an area by your neighbours. Looks like you’ve struck gold there girly!


  8. Kirk M says:

    A beautiful tale well told, K8. Looks like Father Time left you a gift.

    Have a fine new year and all the rest as well. And hopefully your projects won’t get the best of you.

  9. K8 says:

    Baino; I like Groundhog Day… not a big fan of surprises, me. And it’s nice to meet someone else who’s also crap with names!

    Medbh; Thank you! May the cream rise to the top for you and yours, too :)

    Thriftcriminal; Jeez boy you could sing that!

    English Mum;I miss my sofa! It’s hard to be resplendent on camping chairs.

    Kirk M; Thanks dude. I hope your work/play station is coming on well basement wise?

  10. Quickroute says:

    Happy New Year – hope it was nice to be in the new gaff

  11. Kelley says:

    I wonder if that is how my brother in law will end up? Hmmm.

    And OMFG that pic of the pope cracked my shit up. Big time.

    Happy New Year.

  12. Queenie says:

    Happy New Year!!

    JP2…he used to fall asleep a lot didn’t he poor old bugger. I like your neighbour, look after him. xx

  13. K8 says:

    Quickroute; You too, buddy :) Yeah, it was pretty close timing!

    Kelley; Ahh El Papa’s great craic though. Happy New Year to you too and to your family :)

    Queenie; Happy New Year you back! Didya come up to Dubling for the Counting Crows? How was the gig?

  14. A happy new year to ye K8.

  15. Queenie says:

    Nope….they cancelled….citing the ‘R’ word, in other words they won’t make enough money, so they rescheduled their European tour for May!!

    So, Mother came over anyway, to do Chrimbo shopping instead of sitting the babies, and, I forgot to cancel hotel booking and had snotty GM of said hotel to deal with.

    We will be up in May (if they decide to come), and I will be ‘in the chair’ so to speak, so would love to meet up.

    I really must write about the things that went on over Christmas, lazy cow!

  16. K8 says:

    Xbox4nappyrash; Happy New Year to you too! Nappy new year I hope.

    Queenie; Cancelling Crows, eh? Lazy feckers. Don’t worry about being a lazy cow :-p Let your brain enjoy the holiday!

  17. Kirk M says:

    Just to let you know, my lady loved your chaos sign so much a copy is now hanging on the wall in her quilt shop here in town…

    …especially where the landlady can see it…

    …it refers to her, actually…

    …but she doesn’t know it. :P

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