Despite the naysayers and the doubters who regularly bemoan the crumbling of society’s very fabric, neighbourly spirit is alive and well down our street. A street where people talk and things are loaned and borrowed, mainstays of a bygone era re-awoken and juxtaposed with technologies new – our street has a Facebook page no less.
And the winners here? Social cohesion for sure, us human inhabitants too, but by far the biggest beneficiary of our nostalgic idyll is a louche and disreputable figure going by the name of Dudley.
For on our street resides one of life’s true heroes, a lady so warm and kind that she carries dog biscuits with her wherever she goes. Most mornings the three of us meet, her returning from the paper shop, Dud and I embarking on a brief pre-work sojourn. Our gatherings are short but last long enough for an exchange of pleasantries and, in Dudley’s case, the receipt of two small dog biscuits, a bounty he snatches with such brutish force as to remove three layers of skin from her fingers.
Not content with this post breakfast snack and clearly seeing ‘pensioner mugging’ as a gateway crime leading to more profitable misadventures, Dudley has now turned to breaking and entering. Facilitated by some slipshod tethering, a porous front garden and a clear modus operandi, the hound seizes every possible opportunity to slope off up the road in search of his generous benefactor. And always with a sense of foreboding, I follow suit, that is, hot pursuit.
When I arrive, it is usually to the same frenzied scene; an excitable Dudley, spinning and bum tucking his way through the garden at speed and tail chasing his way around my neighbour, intimidation tactics no doubt. Eventually, these give way to harassment and then unlawful entry. Straight into her house he bundles, as if shot through a canon. Dancing about the kitchen, nosing into the lounge and ransacking the pantry, nothing ever off limits in his craven quest for food, all the while his body a slave to its scent hungry nose as it drags him – and me – ever deeper into this depraved scene.
In the end, he gets his way. Like discrete staff in a high-end restaurant, dog biscuits appear every time from nowhere, each one dispatched by the brown bandit at lightning speed, after which we make good our escape, me all sheepish and gushing apologies, him oblivious to his misdemeanours.
What lies further up the ‘food chain’ of petty crime I wonder? I don’t suppose it will be too long before I find out. Nor I suspect, my neighbour.