- Vol. 06
- Chapter 11
There’s nothing to do here except watch the neighbours. So many floors up, in these buildings there are no tree tops, no parks to see, no birds, just concrete and brick, balconies and windows. Lots of windows. And all curtainless. Well, most.
There is nothing to do when you have no money except watch the neighbours. I had to sell the music centre, my vintage vinyl collection, and the widescreen TV just so I could pay my rent. I was laid off from my job and the work I do now is on a zero hours’ contract. Some weeks I don’t have enough hours to make the money I need.
There is nothing to do once I am alone in this flat except watch the neighbours in the apartments opposite. I keep the light off (it keeps the bill down) and move my chair in front of my window. I can see several flats, lights blazing, people moving around. I’ve have seen arguments raging, children playing, and the sad looking lady in the apartment to the right who also stares out. I think she is lonely like me.
There is nothing to do when no one asks you to join them for a drink, or the cinema, or for a meal (not that I could afford it even if I was asked), so my entertainment is here. It’s my personal reality TV, a nightly instalment of Block 310 on Duke Street. And tonight there is a party I haven’t been invited to. I raise my glass of Savers lemonade and down the packet of outdated crisps I found at the back of the cupboard. I nudge my window open a tad, feel the threat of winter, push that thought aside and listen as music drifts across the courtyard. The thump, thump of a base beat, laughter rising and falling, and I am almost there in the heat of packed bodies, sharing the joke, the friendly banter, eating sausages on sticks, having a drink topped-up. They are making plans for tomorrow, next week, next month.
There is nothing to do except be a voyeur, a remote viewer to my neighbours across the courtyard. I keep watch late into every night until one by one the windows go dark. Blinds down, curtains finally drawn, lights switched off. Tonight ends with the partygoers departing in the street with shouts of goodbye, cars revving, laughter trailing, a smashed bottle. I look across to the apartment. Already the light has gone out. The show is over. Thank you for the invite. I close the window, move my chair. It’s been a good show.