I met Roy and Barbara, our neighbours-to-be.
Roy: …so your pitching in would be marvellous – a real treat. Can’t say we’ll pay you, but you can call it god’s work - helping us next door will be like helping him upstairs!
Shane: Just as long as you don’t ask me to shift any valuables, I’ll be happy to help.
Roy: Valuables? Ha! Listen to ‘im - he clearly doesn’t know us, eh Barb’.
Barb.: (sneezes) Whew! Excuse me. We’ve got a lot of clutter – books mostly, decrepit shelving and units – in fact, decrepit a lot of things. The only valuables, really, are the laptops and one or two family bits and pieces. And anyway, from what I’ve seen, one or two bumps during removals is about the norm.
Shane: You’ve moved a lot?
Barb.: I’ve moved… this’ll be my… fifth move in ten years. And it’s much the same for you isn’t it?
Roy: Yeah – different moves, but yeah, five or six.
Shane: You’ve been together for…?
Barb.: It’ll be our fifth anniversary on March 1st – of living together - we’re not married.
Shane: (slight frown)
Roy: We get frowned on quite a lot - due to the collar – people seem to think that because I work for God, we should be married –
Barb.: - and that I should be staying at home, baking scones and arranging flowers all day – which I’m sure would be all well and good, but it would hardly pay the bills.
Roy: It is a bit different though. As soon as people hear that I work at a prison, they take it to be ecumenical make-believe – but it’s certainly not that. Still, we all have our prejudices.
Barb.: We do?
Roy: Yes, we do – often petty and of no harm, but prejudices all the same.
Barb.: That’s a bit sweeping.
Roy: And it’s true.
Barb.: Says who?
Roy: Would you like me to get you started on Manchester United - here in front our new neighbour?
Barb.: (laughing) No, better not. (sneezes) Excuse me.
Shane: You like football?
Barb.: I love football!
Barb.: The Quakers.
Barb.: You know them?
Shane: In passing. What is someone with your accent doing supporting Darlington?
Barb.: Now there’s a story!
Roy: A long story! Shane, would you mind if we don’t go there right now? It’s been lovely meeting you – and I’m sure it’ll be good to meet Emma and Alex, but we’ve got to get back for a telephone meeting – a small project that we’re working on.
Shane: No problem – we can talk again.
Barb.: Yes, better be off. Lovely to meet you.
Shane: And you.
Barb.: And maybe we’ll see the cat next time.
Shane: How –
Shane: Ah. Yes, he’s probably upstairs on one of the beds.
Barb.: It’s a hard-knock life.
Roy: We’ll give you a knock, then – a week next Saturday – though you’ll probably hear the rumble of the lorry.
Shane: Ok. I’ll see you anon.
And that was that - nice people, interesting people, happy people – good sorts – pleasing additions to the neighbourhood. I hope.