The Deputy is our lovely neighbour; nosey, slightly over-bearing with far too much time on his retired hands but lovely. Called The Deputy (not to his face) due to his senior position in the local neighbourhood watch scheme and as such, he is concerned about all things neighbourly.
To put him in a little context, we live on a 1970’s cul-de-sac of 9 houses. Of the 9 houses 5 of these have only ever had one owner and are therefore occupied by OAPs. “The Originals” as The Deputy calls himself and the others who have lived there for 43 years, like to instil a sense of community. Or rather they like to know exactly what is going on at all times with everyone on the close.
Phil and I moved on to the close at the age of 29 with The Girl, then aged 18months. One of the neighbours (who it turns out is nicknamed “The General and his wife” by one of our newbie neighbours) came to introduce themselves and were visibly surprised when laying eyes on us.
“Oh we were expecting someone more mature.”
” Erm, you mean older?” I reply
“No. More mature.”
I won’t lie, I felt pretty mature, what with being married, a mother, a doctor, now a home owner and living on a cul-de-sac. But sure, they were expecting more maturity.
So the other day The Deputy sees me pulling up to the house having successfully negotiated the preschool run and he nips out to ‘say hello’. Only it isn’t hello that he has come to say, he has come to investigate why I am driving Phil’s car. So I offer a brief and totally uninteresting answer explaining about it needing a service and it can’t do any more miles until the end of the month to avoid invalidating the warrantee. This is a phenomenon that the Deputy is unfamiliar with (being that his car is only used for a weekly shopping trip and an annual holiday) and so he hangs on my every word.
“Haven’t seen much of Phil recently…”
Hmm, now my cynical self is wondering if he is prying for knowledge into the state of our marriage, but giving him the benefit of the doubt I explain that Phil is just working long hours.
“Where is Phil based these days?”
So I explain that he is now at a hospital which is approximately a 30mile and 90mins round trip (a vast improvement from last years 52 mile and 2.5hour commute) and the job is busy. And, because I know what is coming next, I go on to explain exactly how busy, that he leaves the house at 7am and on a good day gets home around 7pm, but when on call (which is every Tuesday) he does 24hrs and rarely comes home at all, deciding not to risk driving so tired and instead sleeps in a grotty on-call room in a single bed with a plastic mattress (I do spare The Deputy some of the finer details). Oh, and one weekend a month he is on call too so rarely makes it home then either, for 3 nights in a row. With which I conclude my sob story and await The Deputy’s response.
“I couldn’t help but notice your front lawn is looking rather long….”
There it is. This is the bomb I knew he was trying to drop from the start. He wants our lawn mowed as he thinks it’s making the close look untidy. He has told me before that he doesn’t believe lawn mowing is a job for a lady, and he nearly died when he saw me mowing the back lawn with The Boy on my hip and The Girl helping me push (it wasn’t ideal but it was the situation I found myself in).
Now you may be picturing a lawn so unruly that you could wade through it like you’re on a bear hunt and would need a freshly sharpened scythe to hack through its dense undergrowth (in which case, perhaps reasonable to mention it). But actually it’s just a tad too long, it was mowed 3 weeks ago and sure, it could do with a little trim but it’s winter and I very much doubt that anyone else considers it an issue. So I’m a little tiny bit mad, and consequently I’m not likely to respond to this additional job being added to my to-do list in a positive or polite manner, so I don’t.
I don’t respond at all.
I just stand there.
I stand there long enough for it to register with The Deputy that this maybe wasn’t the best thing to say. I stand there long enough that The Deputy then says…
“Mind if I mow it for you?”
Which is how I come to be sat in my lounge with the blinds closed, as much as I think I can get away with in the middle of the day, in an attempt to hide from my elderly, hunched over neighbour in a boiler suit mowing my front lawn.