Thursday, 20 September 2012

Across the Road


My road is a very very strange road, even by Reading standards.  It’s a North-South rat run, directly between Caversham bridge and junction 11, so it gets a lot of through traffic; which was a pain in the ears when I first came here, but not really a problem since I had the secondary glazing put in and got acclimatized.  There’s also a certain amount of passing pavement trade, which to my mind is to be expected (although not many of my neighbours would agree; nor, I suspect, will I if and when I decide to sell).

The most interesting thing is the variety.  I used to joke that we have everything except a thatched cottage, and that’s not far off the truth.  Starting from the upper end, you find forties semis on the right (except for number 51, which is very peculiar) and sixties tower block flats on the left, set back in a Close (in the Watch we don’t talk much about them), followed by four-storey Victorian town houses, six or eight bedrooms mostly occupied by young professionals with two or less kids.  On the left, the Victorian town houses suddenly change from family homes to converted bedsits and flats.  On the right, the forties semis give way to my house, which is on a rather complicated cusp.  (I’ll tell you the story of my house another time.)  From then on down, with a few curious and notable exceptions, it’s mostly bedsit land until you reach the huge doctor’s surgery on the left and the nursery on the right.  Oh, and the funny little cottage tucked in just before the bottom of the road.

Those of you who live in Reading will now know exactly where I live (as, of course, will those of you who’ve been here).  I have some kind of role in the Neighbourhood Watch, and as you can guess there’s a lot of dispute, much of it behind the scenes, about where the boundaries lie.  The upper avenue wants to preserve its exclusivity, pretending that the lower orders aren’t really there (except for our outliers).  The lower orders don’t get a Watch voice (even though I suspect they’re mostly decent folks who happen to have to live in bedsits or flats, because that’s the way it is).

Across the road from my landing window, I can see into one of the bedsits on the other side of the cusp.  Two little kids, about four and seven, are brought home by their mum, and immediately climb up onto the windowsill, where they watch the traffic and the people, and possibly me.  I try to imagine what their lives are like.  I’d love to wave to them, but I daren’t.  I’d love to invite them and their parents to the next Neighbourhood Watch meeting, but I daren’t.

11 comments :

  1. "a pain in the ears when I first came here, but not really a problem since I had the secondary glazing put in and got acclimatized" - Sorry, I was so sure you were going to say "not really a problem since I got older and deafer". Oh, mea culpa.

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  2. What's "passing pavement trade" exactly? Sounds very film noir.

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  3. I was a Watch coordinator in a Cornish village. The meetings at our local police station were always entertaining, and revealing. People at the posh end of town got anxious about low police visibility in their area, when shoppers were parking their cars (legally) right outside their homes. Scandalous! The same moaners were completely unsympathetic regarding the drug-related crime that was destroying our rural community.

    Go on, Tim, give the kids a wave. Someone's got to make the first move. You might even get a wave in return.

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  4. oh I remember wery well your road... and the way from the center of the town to your house

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  5. Actually I can hear perfectly well, AQ. I SAID ACTUALLY ...WHAT??
    Rog - 'exactly'?? No idea. Of course. Do you want me to apply for details?
    Martin, yes, it's a bundle of fun, isn't it. But I won't wave. They're probably watching out for dad's dealer.
    Hi Luca, feel free to drop in any time.

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  6. They're putting social housing next door to us. I reckon it'll raise the tone no end.

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  7. Oh do invite them to the next meeting!
    How do people get to be in the Watch anyway? Is it by invitation?

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  8. oh wave, kids love it! And if the mother comes over and thumps you, you'll know she's just the right sort for the 'watch'.

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  9. Yes, Z, the world knows that it is so antisocial round your way, it can but be improved (does cynical Oscar Wilde-type sniff).

    Mig, it has to go up before the committee, who set a date for the hearing and interviews, then a period (at the chairman's discretion) for appeals, then ... only kidding. Short answer - I haven't an f'ing clue.

    Zig - you haven't seen her. I'm not taking that on, even out of sweet charity.

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  10. I'm looking forward to having neighbours I can pop in on, demanding tea and cake!

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  11. Anyway, I think they may have moved out. Happens a lot over there.

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