Neighbourhood Watch

by Russ

You seen this on the telly? That’s the view from my doorbell. Look, that’s Number Twelve’s front gate. Grumpy old man is that fella, always waving his paper an’ yelling at cats. Our Jenny put it in, the doorbell. ‘You just need to put the TV on channel ninety-nine and you can see who’s at the door,’ she said. ‘What’s wrong with just opening the door?’ I said. Well, she rolled her eyes at that. ‘It’s a different world today, mum,’ she said. ‘You’ve got to be careful.’ Anyway, it seemed to make her happier. Apparently, when someone goes near she gets an alert on her phone or something. They don’t even need to press it, just come close enough and ‘poof’. All a bit big brother if you ask me, but there you go.

I was putting the bins out last night and Jack Whittiker from Forty-Seven was dropping a bunch of shopping off for Albert at Sixteen. ‘Nice service you’ve got there, Bert,’ I yelled. Deaf old codger waived but I don’t think he heard me properly. ‘You doing that for everyone?’ I shouted to Jack. ‘Yeah,’ he yelled. ‘It’s all in the what zap, didn’t you see? We’ve all got to pull together in these times.’ ‘The what zap?’ I said. ‘Yes,’ he said. ‘So I could get some eggs and things?’ I said. ‘Yeah,’ he said. ‘Just put it in the what zap.’ ‘The what zap,’ I nodded and closed my door. I’ve no idea what a ‘what zap’ is.

Jenny called me this morning. ‘Hermes at the door,’ she said. I said, ‘I don’t think so love, we’re a long way from Olympus.’ ‘No mum, it’s Amazon,’ she said. ‘That’s not even in Greece,’ I said. ‘Just open the door, Mum,’ she said. So, anyway, now I’ve got this ruddy great box blocking up my hallway until she manages to pop round for it. ‘Could be a few days,’ she said. ‘You know how it is.’ Well, I suppose I do by now.

I had a note from next door through this afternoon. ‘Dear Neighbour,’ it said. All printed from a computer and such. I guess that’s why they didn’t put my name on. ‘Dear Neighbour,’ it said. ‘Our family have recently returned from a week in Santorini,’ it said. ‘Well, that’s lovely,’ I thought.’ ‘Obviously, we took every precaution,’ it said, though I don’t know what was obvious about it. ‘We took tests before and after and we’re both working from home for the next ten days.’ ‘Try doing it for fifty years,’ I thought. ‘But if you happen to see the boys playing out,’ it carried on. ‘Please do keep your distance.’ Look, that’s one of them now. Look at his tan, practically glowing warm. They’ve got a ball, Number Twelve won’t like that.

Anyway, you don’t need to be listening to me witter on, Doctor. I’m sure you’ve got loads of us old fogies to get round. I’ll let your receptionist know if there’s any side-effects, but I’m sure it’ll be fine. Careful of that box on your way out, last thing we want is a GP with a broken leg, not with all this going on!