What happened to being a good neighbour?
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What happened to being a good neighbour?

I spent a lot of my childhood moving around from place to place so I’ve had more than the average amount of neighbours other people have had. Many times, early askings of cups of sugar or flour developed into long-lasting friendships. My mother, who has always been incredibly kind and bubbly, would exchange recipes and advice about child-rearing and invite people into her home at the drop of a hat. Well, those days have been sadly over for a while.

I don’t know when being rude and ungenerous became what seems to be a national trait but it’s spread like wildfire. No sooner do we leave a potted plant outside the house than it disappears, welcome mats have vanished from our neighbourhood in times that would make Usain Bolt blush and long, lean scratches magically appear overnight on our cars where there were none the night before. Forget about asking for sugar: you’d have better luck finding a pickaxe buried in your neck.

Things came to a new head for me last week when I posted a letter at two of my neighbours’ houses, a letter to which I desperately needed an answer to by a given date and even though the deadline has all but passed, I have yet to hear from them. I might as well start gathering firewood and build an altar, because at this point it’s going to take a human sacrifice to get people to act with a modicum of civility. In the past, if a phone rang, you answered it; if a doorbell rang you didn’t pretend you were dead while continuing to watch television and if your neighbour showed up looking distraught, you put the kettle on.

Now, I know that being exhausted has become a hobby. God knows, I feel like Atlas himself half the time trudging along this mortal coil, but it really does cost nothing to making a small effort with the people around you. Don’t steal their flowers, smile if they smile at you, answer their letters if they’ve written to you and well, try to not be difficult if you can help it. And if you absolutely don’t want to do something for others, just keep in mind that one day you may slip and be eaten by your pet dogs before someone realises you haven’t left the house in months.

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