'His wife died you know, breast cancer, mmmm.'
I have long since stopped jumping put of my skin every time my neighbour pops up behind the deliberately overgrown fuchsia. The 'Oh' was more of a mask for the 'shit, shit, shit' that was running through my head whilst I planned a dastardly escape from the dreaded Irma (as in 'Irmageddon', can't tell you her real name - you'll laugh).
I had spent the morning trying to make the garden look like a garden again. Irma works until lunchtime so I thought that I could garden in peace. I suppose I had been doing my usual and was staring off into space when Irma caught in what she interpreted as a spot of 'Neighbourhoodwatching'.
'Mr B, mmm, did you know?'
Oh God, how to answer? If I engage I'll never get rid of her and I'll have to listen to entire life history's of the whole town.
Don't get me wrong, I'm sure that my neighbours are all very nice people. I like them being there but I don't want to enter into their lives.
Irma would like to enter mine. She's tried a few times. The last time she got in she asked when the carpets were coming!!
Her house is the antithesis of all things Victorian, a hermetically sealed tribute to the seventies. Mine embraces the old, 1882 glass and we are rather partial to the wobbly-bobbly horizon and the drafts that try to nick your slippers. They think we're weird!!
She and Mr Geddon were very excited when we moved in and were determined that we were going to become their 'new best friends'. Thankfully it only took a very drunken, housewarming party to set the record straight, but she forgets herself sometimes.
When the kids were younger we used to lie down on the floor and pretend we weren't in- tsk, tsk, I don't do net curtains either!
So, I was trapped, I put my hands up and listened to the sordid tale of poor Mr B until I spotted Big Fecker standing at the door.
'Don't mention coffee' I yelled telepathically ' I'll give you a tenner, you can get drunk at the weekend and I won't say a word, no coffee, no coffee!'
'Mum, Dementia's on the phone.'
I made my apologies and scuttled inside expecting the phone to be handed to me.
'You owe me one' Big Fecker said smiling!