Friday, 20 May 2016

street life

Copyright: <a href=''>iqoncept / 123RF Stock Photo</a>

Apparently today is European Neighbours Day. Did you even know such a thing existed? I didn't but I love that it does.

I've always yearned to live in a street that is reminiscent of the residences I would read about in childhood novels. The ones where everyone knew each other, you could pop round unannounced by the back door leading straight into the kitchen and if your mum called for dinner you'd all climb out of each other's gardens shouting 'it's alright mum, Mrs so-and-so has already given me tea' and that would be okay. And that I'd live in a street where they had street parties.

I've often used sepia images of by-gone Royal celebrations with rows of trestle tables and smiling grannies and kids waving Union Jacks, to stimulate a piece of writing or dramatic scene in lessons. And I think I secretly harboured a desire to one day be a face smiling out of a photo having contributed a Jamaican Ginger Pear Trifle or Eton Mess.

Stepping on the homeowner ladder I realised that this isn't the done thing. I have had (and still have) the most wonderful neighbours in both streets me and the GeordieLad have lived in; people we could really rely on in times of need from the absolute first day we moved in. But not a street party in sight. Maybe we haven't lived near any royalists, I don't know, because what other reason would you have for holding one? Someone in the street passing their SATs exams or getting onto The Voice? 

Maybe not. 

I wonder have we lost our sense of neighbourly appreciation?

Have we all submerged into the comfort of our little boxes and busied ourselves out of time for our neighbours or do I, a London citizen, suffer from this empty street syndrome disproportionately due to the pass-through nature of the city and am I missing out on the monthly street parties going on outside the M25?

The aim of Neighbours Day is to promote how it's better to live together and suggests activities such as inviting a neighbour in for food and celebrate the differences that make up a community. Brilliant - talking, food, and neighbours spelt with a 'U', what more could I need?

So when I received a flyer through my door yesterday asking for residents' support in organising a Queen's 90th Birthday street party, I was cock-a-hoop! No, really! Not so much about the Queen bit (I'm still scarred at having to stand on a desolate Essex B-road with my classmates on a rainy day waving a plastic Union Jack  at a speeding car that allegedly had Princess Anne in it) but because it'll be really nice to see what the rest of the street's inhabitants look like in the daytime. 

When the rest of our street emerges in a few weeks, blinking, from out of their safety nests, I for one will be armed with a fully laid trestle table resplendent with a smorgasbord of British desserts, a neighbourly smile and who knows I may even break out into song... you know the one...