My name is Michael Caine…

Our road is an eclectic mix. When Maggie Thatcher put council houses up for sale a few decades ago, the resulting social implications is an interesting cross -section of society, living together un-harmoniously or harmoniously, depending on the severity of occurrences. Problems can range from noise to racism; domestic problems to varying degrees of alcohol intolerance (or too much tolerance; parking to dangerous dogs and even……chicken killers. Yes i thought i had heard it all until our neighbour next-door but one accused our next door neighbours of sabotaging their chicken. Animal politics is an issue too, our two little jacks are sandwiched between a grumpy spiteful cat and a giant alsatian.

I have woken up to a fight in the street with the women chucking flower-pots all over her partner’s car, the other next door slinging suitcases into the road and dont even get me started on Halloween.

When i used to sell poppies, i got an insight into the block of flats on our road. From the outside, its just a boring square building but on the inside it is a hotch potch of different tastes and age brackets all swirled together, with the resulting mix of smells and sounds fusing together as you walk the communal stairway. Unsurprisingly, the older lady gardener has her front door surrounded  by greenery, some doors have children’s scooters outside, while others give no hint at what lies behind until the door is open. A polish chap answered the door with so mch smoke behind him that I thought he was about to do an episode of ‘Stars in Your Eyes’….’tonight Matthew i am going to be..’. Then a child pops up behind his legs and I wonder if he will be a smoker too when he grows up or whether he ill completely rebel because of his smokey childhood environment.

There are single mums trying to make a living, divorced mums trying to merge families together and Mums (and Dads) that quite frankly scare the s*** out of me. There are those who try toretend they are elsewhere on the social scale, clinging on to materialistic trappings like a clematis trying to get to a better garden. Then there are the ‘Boo Radley’ style questions… such as ‘are they father and son living together or are they a gay couple?’, ‘Is that their Dad or brother’?

Most of the time we go about minding our own business, but when you stop and think about your neighbours, all doing the same as you, earning a living (or not), coping and not coping, it makes you think about whether UK society is different to other countries because of our culture and politics or whether behaviours are similar because we are all human?

I never forget while in Malaysia, being told, on a visit to a village, how the neighbours were clubbing together to sustain the livelihood of a widow and her children.

Here i wonder how long it would take for us to realise she had been widowed and then how long it would take to help her?

This blog is for Unicef.

Thanks for reading.

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