Updated: Jan 11
Everybody needs them.
May I just raise a hand for my neighbour and her four wonderful kids who last week left this lovely pie on my doorstep for no reason at all (corned beef and potato in case you're interested and it was delicious). We're not poorly here and we have plenty of food, I even make pies myself. But none of that made any odds when I opened the door and glanced down. I nearly had a few tears when I saw it.
It was the gesture, the thought that we might like to be included in their meal which had a such a impact on me. I am sick of my own cooking, my own company and my own house. At the same time I'm grateful for them of course but you can get too much of a good thing.
Last night she struck again. This time it was was a couple of piña coladas. One of the boys turned up with the creamy glasses and left them on the windowsill. Again, completely unnecessary but oh so welcome. I scurried outside the back with mine and toasted her over the garden fence, at a safe distance needless to say.
For my part I’ve left a banana and chocolate chip loaf at her backdoor and lemon cupcakes late at night. I regularly drop off a toastie loaf from Aldi (her eldest daughter’s favourite) when I brave the shops in a leopard print mask made by her mum. When the need for masks was at its peak, mum ran up dozens and then ran out of material. My contribution to the cause was every scrap of fabric I’d been hoarding for years and then some.
We also share a robin, a mole and a pair of blackbirds between our gardens, ludicrous corona-humour texts, and seedlings and cuttings we’ve both been attempting to cultivate in the absence of visits to local garden centres.
The whole family next door is involved in this coronamaraderie. Her youngest daughter drops by with her cute-as-a-button homemade muffins, rings the bell in her ’jammies and slippers then stands back with a big smile to make sure we pick them up before nipping back home.
Is our friendship based on cake and cocktails? Maybe, but I think it’s more than that. Perhaps even more than the gorgeous apple turnovers I pick up from the post office when I’m out on my daily constitutional and share with Mrs Nextdoor (and many thanks to the girls at the PO who’ve never missed a beat throughout this whole episode), though they don't do any harm...
We’ve always been supportive of each other and good company as neighbours over the years but this crisis has unearthed something which has made our relationship altogether richer. It’s been about the little extras, the things that cost little but mean a great deal to the recipient. The practical gestures and thoughtful treats that seem to come along at just the right moment and rescue you from a sudden dip when you’re own-working and tired of your own company.
They prove someone cares, that your existence contributes to theirs, hopefully improves it in some way. That you’re more than simply the bod next door and that they cherish the to-ing and fro-ing as much as you do.
Friendship is what I'd like to think we have now and I’m touched and grateful for it.
Jane Anderson PhD specialises in Sociospacial Reciprocity and Place Therapy. She's been working in wellbeing for nigh on 30 years and is especially interested in the people-place relationship and how it underpins all other aspects of staff engagement and wellbeing. Her Staff Wellbeing Framework Model is now charter-marked for quality assurance. www.jcaconsult.co.uk / 07742942651