Getting to know your neighbours

It all began with Christmas drinks. Our third Christmas in the ‘new’ house, but the first where our various emergent neighbourly relationships had achieved a critical mass to warrant an invite to the mid-December soirée. Bottle and torch in hand, the wife and I negotiate the long, dark driveway quickly checking the names of the likely attendees and estimating the threshold for a polite departure.

We need not have worried. The couple from two doors down with a similar appetite for the grape are already there, and a Prosecco a piece is handed to us on entry. I clock a few known faces as I enter into small talk with my host in the corner of the living room. He is one that I am meeting for the first time, and we share some professional and cultural background – it’s a promising start.

Alarm bells start to tinkle when the third person introduces themselves and feels the need to highlight their position on the Parish Council. By the end of the slow meandering introductions, it is evident that four of the seven sitting members are present (including the Chairman) and that I have stumbled into the political hub of the village.

Festive small talk continues, but I notice I have become flanked by my host (the most recent addition to the Council) and the Chairman. I show enough interest to be polite, followed by genuine interest at this apparently rich seam of local intrigue and gossip that is the bottom rung of the British political system. With regular top-ups to my glass I am becoming positively enthusiastic about the whole thing.

What better way to make a positive contribution and get to know people in this small village community that we are so happy to call home. Until now, our relationships in the village have formed up around pets and passing encounters in the local pub. Could the parish council be the way to take a more formal role in village life, enhance our community, and continue to get to know and look out for those around us? If nothing else, it appears to be a cracking spectator sport.

My interest has been duly noted…

“Neighbours complaining about someone’s dog making an awful racket. You could hardly blame the poor beast, its owner had died in her bed at least a fortnight before and there hadn’t been much left of the old girl worth eating.” — James Oswald, Natural Causes

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