I answered the door, and in bounded Jo. After gushing in the general direction of Emma, I settled our visitor with a glass of wine, a poppadom and a comfortable chair. Jo anticipated moving house in ‘roughly three weeks’ – a staggeringly quick shift, I thought, whilst observing a minutely raised eyebrow from Emma. And so, with new neighbours on the horizon, I was keen to learn more.
Shane: So, our neighbours-to-be – should we brace ourselves for noisy parties - drink, drugs, debauchery – that sort of thing.
Jo: Oh, I don’t think so – they seemed quite settled, really.
Shane: Ah well, we’ll have to look elsewhere for that sort of thing.
Jo: (stunned look)
Jo: Oh! I was gonna say!
Emma: Just ignore him.
Jo: Oh no, you’re fine – Keith’s brother’s got a very dry sense of humour – I often can’t tell whether he’s being serious or not.
Emma: I know what y’ mean.
Jo: Men, eh!
A comfortable pause.
Shane: And so what about your buyers – you mentioned that he seemed like quite a character?
Jo: Oh yes – they seemed ever so lovely. He’s some kind of vicar – in a prison!
Jo: Ye-es, but not a proper prison – one for younger men - teenagers, he said.
Jo: Yeah, I thought so – but I couldn’t imagine him as a vicar, never mind in a prison!
Shane: So he's a chaplain?
Jo: That was it - chaplain! I kept thinkin’ of Charlie Chaplin after he mentioned it.
Shane: Don’t suppose you know where exactly he’s working, do you?
Jo: That’s why they’re moving – it’s that one over… that one just off the Barton Road.
Emma: One of your’s.
Jo: You know it?
Shane: I did some work there last year.
Jo: Well there you go! You might know him then.
Shane: I don’t think so, but I imagine we’ll know some of the same people.
Jo: That’s good. But I should warn you – his wife says he’s very accident-prone – so you’ll have to be careful with him.
Shane: I’m sure we will be. And what is it that his wife does?
Jo: Well, she said – I nearly laughed when she said – you must never tell her that - but she said, that she was a writer! I mean, can you imagine a ‘writer’ living anywhere around here?
Emma: (smiling) Y’ never know.
Jo: (wistful) Y’ never know. (pause) So what were you doing at the prison, Shane?
Shane: Just helping out with a group of their lads – listening, mentoring, writing.
Jo: (puzzled) Good… good. Y’ should get on then.
Shane: I’m sure we will.
I shall be listening out for the removals lorry.