Day 218

Invited for a coffee by Kate, one of our neighbours down the road. Arrived to find Susy, Margaret, Catherine, and a lady who has just moved in and whose name I didn’t quite catch. Slightly awkward after Margaret announced to the room that Susy’s husband has just been named the Tory candidate for Essex – a slight conversation-killer in Guardian-reading Blackheath! Things then became more awkward still when X, the elderly lady who lives at number 58, began criticising Sir Ian and Lady Elizabeth, who live at number 60, saying, amongst other derogatory things, that they are very nosey. As our immediate next door neighbours, Ian and Elizabeth have been very kind to us – even kindly turning a blind eye when we accidentally cut down a protected tree – so I felt obliged to speak up and say that, actually, I was quite fond of them. Margaret asked if we had seen much of them lately and I replied that I saw Ian just before Christmas when he poked his head over the fence to chat and then came over to look at the new playhouse. At that point things took a slightly comic turn as X, who likes to hold court, regaled the room with a detailed description of the size, shape, colour, construction method, and general fabulousness of the new playhouse. I was frankly gobsmacked at this – she lives two doors away and hasn’t been to visit since the arrival of the playhouse, and I’m damned if I can think of a vantage point from which she could possibly have seen it through the trees. She must have stood on the roof! I am very fond of X, but I’m afraid that her accusing Sir Ian of nosiness might be a bit of a pot and kettle situation!

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