The Secret Agent Next Door: In Praise Of Radio

It is a most fortunate thing to have good neighbours. Actually one of ours is a bit of an enigma. When we first arrived at this address, over the first few days, observing and listening and generally slowly becoming acclimatised to new surroundings, I wondered about who those in our very local area were and what they did, and used my imagination to fill in the details – and there were many, most in fact, missing – to assemble a biography of the other players I our little world. And the man on one side, the enigmatic man (Laetitia has theorised that it is two men, but I reject this), I decided was, in all probability, an inventor. How else to explain the sudden busts or hammering or sanding or using a circular saw, and then nothing? Sometimes they are not isolated bursts, but so infrequent as to defy any rational explanation: an adult human who is mending a fence doesn’t make loud tapping hammer noises – one! two! three! – then make no other noise, for in some cases fifteen minutes or more, and then produce another burst: one! two! three! Unless he’s torturing somebody in there, and that seems doubtful, or perhaps I’d like to think it is. My inventor theory was based on making an object which possible has a number of features and functions, which needs hammering and sawing and sanding, in small amounts, and plenty of other processes, which are not audible when you live next door – like varnishing and screwing and so on.

Theories, conspiracy and otherwise, were fed when we realised that the time Laetitia and I left the house in the morning often corresponded with his time for leaving, and this guy takes a very long time to leave. He opens his garage door, and moves his motorbike up to the end of his driveway, leaves it, closes the door, returns to the bike, puts on gloves and helmet, and the whole time there is revving, inside the garage, on the way to the top of the drive, and then once the safety gear is on, in anticipation of actually leaving. I timed it once and It was more than five minutes, if memory serves. When the small detail that it is about three metres from garage door to end of the driveway is considered it illuminates how long this guys takes to get going. It’s glacial.

And so we started taking more notice of his comings and goings. He rides a nice motorbike (note the, in-the-know jargon there) and also drives a well looked after Subaru WRX (or something like that). In fact everything is neat about this man. His house is carefully maintained. He has beautiful roses of several kinds in his front yard, and that can’t be a bad thing. Although he does seem to go out quite a lot, if you’re keeping an eye on such things, and one persuasive theory was that this stylish, grey haired, athletic gent might actually be some sort of gigolo (or perhaps that was just me).

On the other side of our modest dwelling are friendly neighbours we have come to think of as friends. And today, Malcolm, the father was gardening when a deliver came for me, and he took it and looked after it, rather than forcing me to queue at the Post Office, which is frequently so crowded the teeming masses spill out the door, especially at this time of year. That was a friendly and very generous thing to do. And now we have a very attractive digital radio – and although Laetitia considers it to be a mite weird, our ratio of radios to rooms in the house could even be more radios than rooms.

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Published in: on November 24, 2010 at 7:12 pm  Leave a Comment  

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