Meg talks about her neighbours.

Meg talks about her neighbours.

My neighbours:

upstairs: Frannie, a very cool retired fitness instructor, who lives with her taciturn “boyfriend” Joseph (do you still call them boyfriend and girlfriend when they are in their 60s?) who seems to have a different aging BMW parked outside every week. Frannie loves Sir Cliff – I was woken up at the stupidly early time of 10am on New Year’s Day 2000 by Millennium Prayer at full volume ….repeated ….for TWO HOURS!

To my left: Jim and Wendy, fruit and veg wholesalers. Wendy’s 50th birthday was at the weekend. The balloons tied to the gatepost are slowly deflating, but have yet to be removed. They look quite sad and forlorn.

Behind me: Elaine, a rector’s widow. Neighbourhood enforcer, ensuring we all behave ourselves, or else she writes to the newspaper. Secretary of the Chapel Street and North-West Quadrant Residents Association (I kid you not).

To my right: unknown couple, with dozens of WWF and IFAW stickers in their window, and a dog that barks at anything that moves at all hours and is likely to be killed in some horrid and painful way if ever I get the chance.

Opposite, from left to right: the bizarre hair salon that has no sign and does not advertise, serving a very small and select clientele of blue-rinsed customers. Then Jo and her other half, with whom I never speak (we met in a pub once), who have just bought a very small and hairy dog that looks utterly ridiculous. And next to them is the famous girls’ house that is frequently documented on Grayblog.

Elsewhere in Orchard Street: the domestic row couple; the protestant fundamentalist; the Korean students; the drug dealer; the school; the Salvation Army building (now defunct); the man with the very very old dog; the builders; the county records office and the fire station.

It’s a good street to live in.