OVER G’S BALCONY RAILING

Looking over the railing and other observations

Our apartment is on the top floor of a three storey building that doesn’t have a lift. Our enforced exercise regime includes (i.e. consists solely of) climbing down and up the stairs a couple of times, several times a day.

On the balcony, enforced internment has allowed us to dig over, fertilise and tidy up the plant pots. We don’t have much left to do in that department. So we’re spending more time in a time-hallowed pursuit – looking into the back gardens of the houses on the other side of our back lane. We hadn’t appreciated how interesting this could be. What adds spice to the pastime is the fact that most of the houses are rented so there is an irregular turnover of dramatis personae to keep up the interest level.

In the house on our extreme right is a young family. At least the children appear to be young. Can’t tell how old the parents are. P., who is given to communicating, called out to the mother the other day who responded warmly but then said she had to get back to her work-from-the-home. It seemed she was telling the truth and not just trying to shake off unwelcome overtures. After all, she wouldn’t know who we might have been.

Next to her seems to be rented out on short term leases. Oh the horror of Air BnB! For a time, it was occupied by two young women who wore short clothes (it was quite warm still at that stage) and lay out in the sun reading. Occasionally they’d roll out those thin foam mats and go into an exercise routine accompanied by loud music. And not the Waldstein either. Seeing that this was daylight hours, it was hard to object. In any case, after three weeks or so, they moved on. That was two weeks ago. We’re waiting with bated breath to see who moves in next.

The next two houses are definitely Air BnB. One hasn’t had tenants for a while but the next one staged a very loud dinner party the other night that went on until very late. There appeared to be at least 10 people crammed into the back garden. Too much for P. who, employing a different communication style, at about 11.00 p.m. leaned over our railing and threatened to call the police. – a hollow threat because we don’t know the houses’ street numbers since we only see the backs of them.

In response we were told to get lost and that everybody there lived in the house (very small) so a large gathering wasn’t against the isolation rules. I didn’t have the presence of mind to say “Yes. And I’m the pope’s grandmother.” Only three people have appeared in the house in the succeeding days. An inventive young man told P. to “Turn off your hearing aid.” But obviously, the threat of calling the police was effective since the assembly went inside and closed the back doors. Eminently satisfactory for us. The noise subsided and the partygoers increased their risk of a lethal infection several fold.

The last is a wicked thought, almost on a par with stripping supermarket shelves of toilet paper, pasta or face masks. Speaking of which, there are signs normality is returning. A couple of days ago, face masks and hand sanitiser were freely on sale at normal prices at our local hardware shop and P., cautiously shopping yesterday, bought a large pack of toilet rolls, enough, she calculates, to last us through to July, by which time things might have improved or, more likely, become a lot worse. We wait.

FROM CONTRIBUTOR G.

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