As you know I’ve complained before about busybodies. I’ve got no time for them. To be fair, I don’t even care for the term — if anything, the reason they are as they are is because they’ve got nothing reasonable to keep their bodies busy so they turn their dull selves to other people’s business. It’s sad really and my heart would ache for them if I didn’t find them so utterly annoying.
However, I must confess that it was a busybody on our street who saved the day this week, so while I am unable to retract my annoyance, I am glad to see the issue resolved.
Unbeknownst to those of us who have lives to lead, Mrs Clements from Number 11 has been conducting surveillance on the Hartley family at Number 14 for quite some time. As an active member of our local community, I had, of course, heard mumblings that things ‘weren’t quite right’ in the house, but I would argue that most of my neighbours’ insistence on raising children despite their obvious inadequacies isn’t ‘quite right’ either. Nonetheless, she’s got pages and pages of notes on the dodgy dealings going on behind the Hartleys’ curtains.
It all exploded this week when the police were called. Mrs Clements obviously felt she had enough evidence to get the law involved, and Christopher and I were woken to some brutish activity up the road. Needless to say, I forbade him from peeking through the curtains to try to gain info as that makes us no better than they, so after getting dressed, I promptly walked up and asked the coppers directly what they were playing at.
Although PC Stupidface was quite tight-lipped, it became clear what was going on. The Hartley family was no family at all — the only one at the address was a bachelor named Peter Hartley who lived with a horse. A small horse, but most definitely a horse.
No one seemed aware of how and when it moved in, nor did anyone understand why. Without having had a cup of tea yet, I couldn’t be bothered to share my insights into the causes (loneliness, delusion, father who lost too much money on the gee-gees), because the most urgent concern was how to get the horse out of the home.
It was a ridiculously complicated affair that I shan’t bore you with, but by early evening, the horse was being led down the road on its way to a nearby farm where it will live the rest of its days, getting plenty of fresh air and water and eating grass instead of fried eggs and beans.
Peter was taken away as well, though, his future probably won’t be quite as bright. He’s likely to be charged with animal endangerment, and cleaning his house is going to cost a pretty penny, but I do hope he gets the help he needs. I do not condone Mrs Clements’s nosiness or her loudmouth children. However, as a result of her intervention, the unhappy state at Number 14 has now come to an end.
Often we don’t know the details of those people who live around us, and until this week, I was 100% on board with that idea. I was willing to give them a quick wave and I’ve always been an active member of many local groups; however, I was quite happy to keep myself distanced from the tedious details of their daily lives.
But seeing Peter’s sad eyes as his horse was led away made me question my attitude. Maybe getting to know the lives of those around us could help keep all of us happier and safer. It’s a delicate balance, of course — invading people’s privacy is still a no-go area and the use of binoculars or listening devices is rarely recommended. But maybe if I had taken a little more time to get to know Peter, I could’ve helped him (or at least noticed the odour of manure). Mrs Clements too was ignorant of his equine companion; for all her watching and note-taking, she had never actually spoken to the man to find out the truth of what was going on.
When Christopher and I returned from our errands this morning, we passed by the farm and saw the horse at the gate, looking longingly for his old friend. It was such a sad sight that when we got back, I had Christopher spend three hours baking cupcakes which I then had him deliver to our neighbours’ doors. I don’t pretend that my gifts changed anyone’s lives, and, quite frankly, I still don’t like any of them. (I even actively despise one, who knows who he is and who I’m sure remembers the deviled egg disaster as well as I do). But it’s a start.
If a little friendliness lets people know that there’s someone they can reach out to in times of trouble, no harm done. And if it means that no more farm animals will be taking up residence on our avenue, all the better.