I’m one of hundreds of people who cannot seem to help themselves looking into windows when the curtains are open and the lights are on.
I’m not being nosy, I don’t want to know what people have or haven’t got, but like a moth to a flame, my eyes are drawn there and I take in the view. It’s human nature.
In the village where we used to live, people were nosy but at least most were discreet.
We made a point not to leave our curtains open in the evenings as our fence was only three feet high and we were just some ten feet from the main road. It was annoying sometimes to see the same people walking backwards and forwards and peering in when we were working or decorating, and when the Hippo bags were on the front, oh hell. It wasn’t unusual to see someone ferreting around inside for something they could use. We didn’t mind actually, if it was suitable for something to someone else, they were welcome to it.
We only had neighbours on the one side, and they were the King and Queen of Nose.
We were invited in for coffee one day shortly after our arrival and given the third degree. After that, apart from the nodded greetings in passing or ‘hellos’ over the fence, we didn’t socialize much.
It took us some six months to get the house more or less the way we wanted it.
We utilised wasted space, updated the kitchen, plumbing and central heating, and decorated throughout, getting rid of the mismatched doors and door knobs and the horrendous colour schemes in each room. It was obvious the previous owners had tried a variety of ideas from these home makeover shows, but none had worked.
However, decor is personal taste, and we always see beyond the owners’ when viewing a property anyway. We stripped off all the wallpapers, let the rooms breathe to get rid of the damp, and after addressing all the other problems we uncovered, painted the walls either white or magnolia, introducing colour with furnishings and upholstery.
Our neighbour was seen so often doing an impression of a giraffe looking over the back fence (we discovered later she stood on a stool!), it was amazing she didn’t suffer from whiplash when she tried to make out she wasn’t.
In the end, we felt sorry for her, and invited the pair of them in for a meal.
Of course they were also given a tour of the new ‘Chez Nous’, and were impressed with our ideas and ingenuity.
What we’d done inside thus soon became common knowledge, not that we were too bothered.
We knew most of the villagers by sight within a few months and the immediate terrace property owners by name. Some we struck up friendships with, others we kept at arm’s length, but we were always polite and chatty if we were out in the front garden washing the cars or cutting the grass.
When it came time for us to move on, the horse lady who owned the smallholding a few doors down asked if we still had the black tiles in the bathroom. Apparently they had been put up by the owners some three sets before the ones we bought from, and they’d been there ten years!