I’ve been trying to explain my neighbourhood to a few people this week. It’s a very unusual little area and the way we behave towards each other is far from normal.

All the buildings new and old, are carved up into apartments. We have no garden or individual yards to tend. Instead we have a field of 6 rotary washing lines, a picnic bench and deck chairs, and a unique neighbourly attitude which means we all share and get along just fine.

Sharing turf here in the UK is not usually the done thing. As a rule we like to have our own little indoor space attached to its own little outdoor space. We like to have fences to keep the neighbours out and get territorial if a neighbour parks in the wrong space.

Well not here. Here we have a parking lot for everyone to share. The fence outside only acts as a wind break for the washing lines. The gate is rarely closed and the picnic bench always full of people. We’re in and out of each others houses enough to know each other but not enough for it to be a problem and we often take in parcels and deliveries for each other.

And we share cats.

Everyone knows who the cats belong to and we have all agreed not to feed any cat which is not rightfully ours. None of the cats are strays and they’re all very well fed. Our neighbourhood cats often wander in and out of our houses with impunity to the point where they own us rather than the other way around.

Two cats here have decided that they own me. Flopsy, a cute little tortie, walks me half way home and then when she reaches a certain wall she will demand belly rubs and will flop down in front of me. Socks then appears and takes me the rest of the way home. He’s a huge black and white tom with a purr as loud as a motorbike. He’ll come all the way up three flights of stairs just to get his snuggles and his drool. He never stays longer than 30 minutes (his choice) and his regular time is just before his owner comes home from work.

Our neighbourhood watch is our cats. They look after us as we all look out for each other. They show us the dignity and respect that many neighbourhoods in this century are often lacking. They instill in us a sense of pride for our behaviour towards each other and a consideration that is often talked about as missing in our modern society.

They understand the concepts of shared ownership. They get exactly what it means to be private and independent yet to be loving and sharing.


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