Sunday, May 17, 2015

A tale of two neighbours part 2

She doesn't have a computer so I have no hesitation in calling our upstairs neighbour Julie. If she needs something from the internet, she rings her brother in Hawthorn and asks him. She doesn't visit her brother as she does not get along with her brother's wife.

How do I know so much about Julie? We have known her as a fellow building resident for quite a long time. She bought her apartment shortly after we moved here and we have brief chats, usually about holidays, past and future. She is well travelled.

We ran into her a week ago and out of the blue she said, you must come up for a drink one evening before you go away in June. Lovely we said. I am sometimes available at weekends or a working day during the week. I thought is was a casual invitation that either she or we might follow up at some point in the future. Yes, must catch up sort of thing. We were on our way into town and as soon as we were back home there was a knock at the door. Security breach!!! It was Julie. She can see our balcony and see if we are at home if we step outside. What about next Saturday, say 5.30, she asked. R invited her into the lounge room and we would have done the obligatory show her around our place except I had washed my bedding and thrown it in a heap on the bed with my stained old doona and mattress protector on show . I checked my work times and I was not working so we agreed.

By 5pm on the day I was thinking, this was not a great idea. I don't want to go, but we were obliged. We had bought a nice bottle of wine as a gift. I said to R, I wish it was like in Europe, where people invited to someone's home would insult their hosts by taking anything. Maybe things have changed in Holland now, but my father and step mother's Dutch friends explained some 35 years ago that the hosts will provide the appropriate food, drinks and cigarettes. A little information from people 35 years ago who were then in their forties talking about the Holland of their youth could be well out of date but I like the concept.

The Australian way is to take something, and it is a bit naughty if you take wine as a gift that you plan to drink. That did not happen in this case. Our gift was accepted and white, red or beer was offered.  Julie said, I usually have beer before dinner in the evening, and ripped the ring pull off a can of Heineken and poured it into a glass. I had earlier said to R, we could excuse ourselves after an hour or so, saying that we are going out for dinner on this Saturday night. I corrected myself. She can see us on the balcony and I am sure she can even if just our lights are on. As it was, a friend had invited us out to dinner nearby and he called to tell us he was downstairs at ten to seven. We had chatted for an hour and twenty minutes, yet I could have stayed as Julie was interesting and I thought I did well enough with the conversation, and R is an expert in conversation.

Julie lives three floors above us, and at the front of the building. While as I expected, she can't see the same detail on the ground we can, her views are terrific. We can't see Gunn Island in Albert Park Lake. She can. We can't see down St Kilda Road all the way to the Junction. She can. We can't see the MCG. She can. We can't see half of the city, she can.

Although only two bedroom, the non bedroom area is as large as ours and without very much in it; a small dining table and chairs, a lounge suite with the chairs facing the couch over a coffee table and not much else apart from filled bookshelves lining one wall. She uses the main bedroom at the front as a sitting and tv room. However, the apartment certainly does not look bare, with her own art and works she has collected from around the world in her travels. There was nothing of great note, but some pieces I found interesting among the eclectic collection.

I don't know if she was ever married and there has never been a mention of children. She is the daughter of policeman, a trained teacher who taught in London for a few years before returning to teach in Australia. She retired at the age 38, seeming to have received a payout for some dodgy education department happenings. All very hush hush.

It is hard to guess her age but I wouldn't be surprised if she was seventy. Although she has an older BMW, like many cars in the building, it sits there unused for weeks at a time.  But unlike me who does not get my bicycle out for weeks months years, she is a keen cyclist and member of an older women's riding group.

She has a friend who knows our friend, the Brighton Antique Dealer, and I am thinking maybe we should invite her out to dine with us we next meet up as a group and BAD is attending. Just a thought. R would probably be cold on the idea.

Anyway, it was very pleasant hour or so. We could mix more with fellow residents and have been invited out a couple of times, but we have declined, probably because of my work commitments. I can't really remember.




28 comments:

  1. Andrew, I love your post. a bottle of wine is a good gift for neighbour it is popular in Poland, too.

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    1. Gosia, wine, flowers or chocolates are all good but flowers would have been too much for a just a short visit.

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  2. How lovely. My anti-social self avoids social occasions, and it is lovely to hear that one you were not looking forward to turned out to be a pleasant surprise.

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    1. EC, I try to be sociable but it is not always easy. I always end up enjoying myself.

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  3. I'm glad you did part 2, I was waiting for it, good neighbours are a blessing.
    Merle..............

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    1. I was thinking I must finish this or Merle will be cross with me.

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  4. There is not a lot of inter apartment entertaining in my building - or at least there is not much that involves me, which says more about me than the others.

    Three other owners and myself host an occasional TGIF for the four of us but the events are held spasmodically at best.

    You know more about Julie than I know about any of my neighbours.

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    1. Victor, I doubt there is much here either. While we have been in other residents' apartments, this was the only time it was social. There have been resident gatherings in public areas in the past. Christmas gatherings still happen but have been spoilt by a couple of no fun miseries.

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  5. I wonder if her name is really Julie. I don't think I've met a 70-year-old Julie. I was expecting you to say she was 40 or 50. :)

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    1. Susie, I have thought about this today and I don't know any Julies her age. Interesting point but I do know her name as on building documentation is Julie.

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  6. Very nice,sounds like a good time, not too long either, which is good for the first time.

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    1. Strayer, leading to, shall we repeat? I don't know.

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  7. Rather like you, it can be difficult to 'psych' myself up to visiting, but once there generally enjoy the time spent.

    Thank you for the gentle teasing; it was exactly what was needed last night.

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    1. Little did I know Jac. Still, you are here and I am pleased.

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  8. We are a funny mob aren't we? I am terrible for piking on the day if the anxiety is too great. But like you found when I push myself I am usually pleasantly surprised. Just watching a show called Geeks in Marbella on SBS On Demand ~ and it made me think. Not sure what makes some so confident?

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    1. Carol, Geeks in Marbella? It sounds like something I would watch if I ever had the tv remote in my hand.

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  9. I am always eager to see the inside of other people's houses or apartments, even if they are just acquaintances. I just like seeing how differently people set things up.

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    1. Jo, I do too. The trouble is my partner gets filled with enthusiasm for what we see and wants to sell and buy. I am staying right here. Wow, you started blogging the same year I did.

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  10. I'm like jo(e) and love seeing other people's apartments or houses, but at the same time I hate getting to know the neighbors. I love my freedom and don't want people stopping by when I'm doing something else like working on the computer or watching a program. Selfish of me but I am who I am. :) I always take wine too.

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    1. Rubye, you must spend some spare time looking at places for sale then. Believe me, if I thought there was any chance Julie might knock at the door and ask, is the kettle on, we would run a mile.

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  11. She sounds rather nice and I can see why you enjoyed a glass or two with her. It's not the same as we live in a detached house rather than an apartment but we have very good neighbours. After the 9 months of renovation we had an open house to thank all around us for their patience and we had a great time. We knew them all a bit before the party but much more after wine was consumed. We have been to four of our neighbours houses for cocktails too. It doesn't happen often and that suits us perfectly. Be cordial and sociable but I don't want to be their best friend.

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    1. Craig, that is the way to go. I remember a painful neighbour who used to visit my mother. She would turn up daily, sit and drink tea and smoke and pour out her troubles, in spite of her filthy house and neglected five children. Her rented house burnt down and she moved away, much to my mother's relief. It is a bit of a class thing. If you are living among the same class as yourself, people pick up the nuances and how to interact.

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  12. "R is an expert at conversation" and I am green with envy. I suck at conversation. struck dumb, tongue tied, whatever else you can call it, I'm it.
    Julie sounds like a thoroughly nice person.

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    1. River, I am sure you exaggerate. Having known each other for so long, I doubt we would have a problem conversing. One of my regrets is we never came through your checkout when we were last in your town.

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  13. Nice to get to know your neighbours/neighbour....You never know if you might need one sometime..

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    1. Too true WA. There are a few people here we know who we could call on if we were in some sort of trouble, but we would not want to really.

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  14. Oh that's it now Andrew, you two HAVE to ask Julie over for drink so she can check out your place also.. you just have too, it's the done thing! Meanwhile as you can imagine I have no problems with conversing, most people love to talk about themselves, it's all about asking the right questions :) Sounds like you may be experiencing a little 'view' envy :)

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    1. Grace, touche. There is never a lapse in conversation when you ask people about themselves. Yes, some view envy but more terrace envy.

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