I suspect that my enthusiasm for befriending our whole building may be symptomatic of my rural upbringing - a feeble attempt to impose the friendliness of village life on a community of hard-nosed Londoners - but I persist with the belligerent optimism that more usually characterises BOF.
BOF, by contrast (a Londoner), doesn't like it when I smile indiscriminately at mad drunken old ladies in the off-license next door: 'She looked pretty harmless, I know, but did you see the size of her walking stick?'. But he has been making friends with the off-license proprietor himself.
|A heavy night at the Pad|
Mr Shop is clearly a man of fine taste, displaying extravagant brands of ribbon pasta alongside his bargain baked beans. A non-drinking, softly spoken Muslim gentleman, he appears to have decided that BOF is a bit of a lad, such that every time we pop down to pick up pasta, Mr S wows us with fictionalised tales of his weekends spent getting 'battered'. BOF, keen to fulfil the lad role, supplies long-recycled drunken anecdotes from his past, before retreating upstairs for a cup of tea and early bed.
And since we still don't have Pretty Neighbour's name, when we arrived back upstairs at the pad yesterday to find a 'Sorry we missed you' parcel slip on the floor, we were excited indeed. The slip, you see, said our parcel had been left with 'our neighbour'. No name on this either – but what possibilities.
Hair coiffed, we stepped politely into the hall predicting instant date success (BOF: ‘How about "that’s so kind of you, could I take you for dinner?"’). A bedraggled man ambled out of our other neighbouring door, and eyed us cheerfully.
'Ah, I've got a parcel for you!' he beamed, dashing off to get it.
We recovered with a quick jaunt to the pub (not our 'local' alas, a seedy hostel always occupied by the same three patrons), only to find yet more local good-will. A man was carrying his bike through the bar. When we offered help, he offered us the bike – it had been living in the pub and he was getting rid of it.
I really wanted the bike. I played it cool, of course – pleased both by the find and the opportunity to prove London's villagey friendliness to BOF. I offered the bike man money, which he wouldn’t take, and pedalled it home excitedly, making extensive bike-based plans for the following day.
Next day, I scurried down our stairs to work, stopping to check on my wheels on the way out. My pub bike was gone.
Not the countryside, after all.