Sunday, September 4, 2011

The Thing That I Like...

The thing that I like about my home town is that if you throw a vol au vent in any direction, it will always hit someone you know.  

This of course, has its ups and downs. You may not want to be noticed yourself with a head like a burst cushion, but who amongst isn’t  secretly rather pleased to see a normally enviable hairstyle looking  as though someone had recently set fire to it?
I met my neighbour when she left a pair of fabulous trainers standing smartly to attention alongside her rubbish 11 years ago. I took them for my young daughter, leaving her a note because  I am old enough to remember Candid Camera and my parents frequently used the possibility of it as a babysitter. She turned up on my doorstep 3 hours later with a daughter of her own and an enormous bag of beautiful clothes that the latter had grown out of. We have been firm friends ever since.
It began a number of co-operative operations which spread to the rest of the street. For instance, we launched a book club and invited a guest, who invited a guest and so on until finally we have 9 regular members of the book club, who see each other through bereavement and divorce , birth and triumph. As a couple of our members said “This group is more than the sum of its parts”. Support, skills and friendship are put into the pot and given absolutely free of charge. It only requires someone to host the club each month and to provide the essential requirements of wine and varying forms of chocolate. The book became a secondary consideration after a shamefully short period of time and we became ‘The Alcochocs’, doing  what it said on our tin. 
We were even on Radio Lincolnshire where clever editing made us sound really quite knowledgeable.

Recently, I  had to leave a note for a delivery man saying ‘Please leave this at...’ before listing a plethora of trusted neighbours almost as long as the street itself; our street now swims together from a cherished offspring’s 18th birthday,  to a Bonfire night then a Christmas Eve bash before onto a surprise seventies- themed 40t,h ,with devilled eggs and Spangles in hand and wearing outfits that bore into the very centre of our souls and make us feel strangely sea sick .

My post natal group are coming to help me paint my downstairs on Saturday.  We used to meet weekly when the children were preschool.   15 years on and the children’s clothes all look strangely familiar, due to the familiar route by which we pass clothes  down; it’s doubtful that anyone here has had to buy a brownie uniform since the Bejing  Olymics.   Spookily, we have reached the stage where the clothes that teenagers grow out of can be passed onto the more petite parents in a horrific echo of a life yet to come. 

But before that day arrives, we have resolved to have a rota of sober weekend parenting, so that as our children grow, there’s always one of us available to give any of our collective offspring a lift, post bail, phone a solicitor, warn off unwanted admirers and generally make sure they get home. Everyone else will be strategically placed throughout the pubs  and behind lampposts, allowing no stone to be unturned but enjoying a drink or two for authenticity purposes.

Doubtless with so many helpers this weekend, someone will step backwards into a tin of  Ferret and Flip Flop emulsion or wallpaper  their engagement ring  into the dining room recess  before we can enjoy our celebratory evening of wine and food and more laughing.  Stamford co-operatives have the ability to make chores an event on the socialising calendar. I often tell visitors to the town that we will celebrate anything at all at the drop of a hat and that given a favourable wind and a sale at the fancy dress shop, we’d celebrate the safe return of a Waitrose trolley.   

Now, what I really need is for The Community Orchard team and Community allotmenteers  to  to take control of  sections of my garden. I’ll provide the wine and chocolate.


  1. Where have you been???? I missed you! REALLY pleased you're back. Don't you dare bugger off again!

  2. Been shedding my skin Sarah, but am pleased to be back to such a lovely welcome from a friend x