COMMUNITY SPIRIT

The observant amongst you may have noticed that my little blog is undergoing a bit of a facelift. Those who know where I live will recognise my home at the top of the page, beautifully drawn by Wendy Sefcik, whose website is credited lower down. A more stylish look to my page has been long overdue and as I began my third year of typing trivialities, I decided that I needed something that reflects a bit more of me than Blogger’s standard backgrounds. This, with Wendy’s help, I am on the way to achieving.

My home is the focus of this post in more ways than one as last night I attended my first Neighbourhood Watch meeting. I live on a wide and leafy road on which there nestle, in beautifully tended gardens, some gorgeous homes. Mine, as the illustration above shows is more modest, my garden more thrown together and containing more than its fair share of play equipment. The disadvantage of my road I decided, as I chatted to one of the few neighbours that I am on first name terms with, is that everyone is shut away behind their huge gates and we have very little community spirit. And so the Neighbourhood Watch scheme was born.

At the appointed hour I turned up with my best smile at the ready. I don’t mind admitting that I was nervous. It’s a long road and I wasn’t at all sure how many people I would recognise, let alone know. Actually, my nerves were wasted as I knew or knew of almost everyone. This is one of the joys of walking everywhere with a raggle taggle bunch of kids behind me. People notice me and generally pass the time of day.

The talk was led by the local coordinator who was friendly and helpful and told us what we needed to know and gave us freebies and by the end of the evening most people were chatting away as if they were at a party.

I have lived here for fourteen years and this was the first time that I had experienced anything even approximating community spirit. And yet it was so easy to achieve, people giving of themselves so readily. Even if the common denominator amongst us is the fear of a threat to our individual lives, at least we do now have some link. No doubt when we do see each other on the street we will now feel able to stop and have a chat even if the conversational opener is Ilkley’s latest crime figures.

I am left with the thought of how easy it is to invite people in to your lives and what a shame it is that it didn’t happen sooner. In our hectic and complicated existence, we often forget to make time for outsiders and I think that we are the poorer for it. I look forward to having some kind of relationship with my neighbours in the future. And who knows? Perhaps we’ll have a street party next!!

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