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Middle Aged Concerns

We have a lane behind our house. It’s a clean lane and, as lanes go, it’s a nice lane. There is nowhere to sit in the lane except just opposite the door into our garage where an old boarded up door into the convent which used to be behind us has a handy step for sitting on.

This tended to attract older men who would sit and drink there in the fine weather. I did not love this but they were always quiet and polite and left their beer cans in a plastic bag which I would dispose of with a tch sound.

The convent is now being replaced by apartments and the building work has made the lane (and indeed our back garden) a much less pleasant place to be. Our older gentlemen drinkers have moved on.

I was deeply displeased on coming home in the middle of the day to see that their place had been taken by two drug users. My neighbour from up the road was cycling past with his granddaughter on the front of his bike and he gave them the evil eye and waited for me to let myself in to the shed with my bike. They were very skinny with bad teeth and clearly about to inject something so the man’s assurance to us that they were “only smoking a joint” was unconvincing.

I didn’t even bother calling the guards but my neighbour up the road did but, as he observed bitterly, they didn’t come. I suppose they are busy.

I feel sorry for these people who have fallen through the cracks and are stuck drinking or even drug taking in our lane but I do not want my children coming home from school and having to wrestle their bikes into the shed while people are shooting up beside them. I had made my peace with our drinkers but I think intravenous drug use is probably where I draw the line. When our builders start in January, I am going to ask them to block up the step with breeze blocks which are somehow a bit better than those vile pigeon spike things.

I suppose we’ll make another attempt to get everyone to agree on gates for the lane – a project which has been in gestation for at least ten years. I note that there are new neighbours at the top of the road who will have to be persuaded. According to their older neighbours whom I know, they are lovely. She is a surgeon and has already diagnosed one of their ailments. I’m not sure whether that will make the new neighbours feel more neighbourly and inclined to agree to an electric gate and then, of course, jointly funding it. The last objector to gates in any way shape or form has died (naturally of old age, I hasten to add) but a number of people won’t go for electronic gates which they see as excessive and over the top but which are insisted upon by the people with the fancy car which they park in the garage accessed by the lane. Everyone has to agree or it can’t be done. Honestly, I can see this running for another ten years.




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