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From neighbours to friends

I never read Dale Carnegie's famous book "how to win friends and influence people." Surely one way is to make friends with those with whom you interact on a frequent basis.

In England, self-introduction is not the done thing. After my noisy neighbours left, I was very hesitant to introduce myself to my new neighbours. So I waited for them to introduce themselves.

In the first month, they were busy with ripping out the kitten-peed carpets and sanding the floors. In the second month, they busied themselves with clearing out the garden. In the third month, I decided that these house-bound folks must be friends of the owners, so I said hi to their little nephew. Before I knew it, two years had passed and they've moved to another part of town.

Where I grew up, we were on friendly terms with almost everyone in our neighbourhood. Our fathers worked together. Our mothers shared recipes with one another. We went to school and played together. Yet being friendly did not mean we remained friends.

Tonight my ex-neighbours invited me and another neighbour to their new home. It seemed strange that we would travel to see them when they had been next door for two years. The feng-shui was better in their new home, I could sense that immediately. We had all evening to chat, time which we never seemed to have during the rush-rush of the last two years.

Next month I look forward to seeing my St John's Wood neighbours. We've all left the high street to places as far as Oxford and Bogota. But it was as neighbours that we had become friends.

30 June 2002 Sunday

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