The generally accepted verdict on the identity of the past weeks – nay, past two weeks – principle subject matter is one of which there is relatively little, if any, serious dispute. Of course, living in the UK, the weather is something of a shoe-in when it comes to committed and coherently placed chit-chat. Only the offering of a familiar, soothing brew could perhaps match the almost supernatural ability of a shift in cloud cover to launch polite conversation with a perfect stranger or defuse a seemingly impossible awkward silence between former sweethearts.
However, the more observant among you would have perhaps identified that our trusted old sky has been a trifle more irked of late, laying out a particular brand of twinned rage, touchingly, if deceptively, baptized as Ciara and Dennis. Though this may sound like a sweetly indigestible daytime American sitcom, the reality of the situation has been something altogether more uncomfortable and gravely serious, forcing many of us to hide away, snuggly, in the safety of our sturdy homes and risk travel only when preferable alternatives are all but extinct possibilities.
Storms are not altogether uncommon in the UK, particularly around this time of year. We are, more often than not, warned about their approach in relatively acceptable time and the aftermath, whatever the duration of the stay, is never as ultimately destructive as those experienced by, say, our American cousins.
But, whilst some of us hide away in relative comfort, re-watching all three seasons of Stranger Things and over indulging on Haagen-Dazs, it might be worth entertaining a thought for those around you.
Living in Edinburgh, as in living in any major city, knowing your neighbours in any sort of intimate capacity can be despairingly rare. We’re all guilty of it or have been at some point in our history. People, for whatever reason, just tend to keep to themselves an awful lot more when surrounded by a substantial population and grand, shiny, tall buildings.
It is in times like these, in places like these, that a good neighbour is a most treasured thing. In our street, your street, anybody’s street, there will, no doubt, be somebody who is in desperate need for a helping hand or reassuring word, particularly those who are, for whatever reason, more vulnerable or less fortunate than us.
And so, before you settle in for the day and pursue your well-earned rest, why not consider these 5 points on how you could help out that person that you know that you really don’t know,
It All Starts With “Hello!”: Yes, it’s all pretty blatantly obvious, but introducing yourself to those on your own street is a massive first step and one often not taken. Exchange names, addresses and, maybe later on, phone numbers. The more you talk, the more trust is built between you and a beautiful relationship can flourish from there. If they need tea bags or a dash of milk after hours, they’ll know who they can come to and vice versa. It’s a win-win situation for everybody.
Offer To Do Their Groceries: It’s important never to overstep the mark and patronize, but in extended periods of diabolical weather, it may be worth popping around to see if you can get something for them since you are going out anyway. There is, after all, no sense in two people getting wet. You don’t want to offend, of course, and the point should not be pushed, but letting them know that you are here to help and with good heart is, at the very least, reassuring.
Carpool Party: Okay, perhaps not quite a party, but offering transport can be extremely beneficial to those, for example, with mobility issues. Perhaps offer to take them to the supermarket or to an appointment on a blustery day? If you’re worried they may kindly refuse in order to save you trouble, try and tempt them with complete control of Spotify. It’s remarkable how quickly people come around when they have an opportunity to go full Carpool Karaoke on Adele or Jay Z.
Invite Them Over For Dinner: Some people, for all kinds of reasons, have found themselves to be socially isolated. If you’re concerned, have them around for an evening. Treat them to a slap up meal and get to know them better. If you’re not much of a cook, how about a movie? Or watch the game together. Or share stories over a bottle (or two) of Cabernet Sauvignon. The possibilities are endless. It just takes that first move.
Physical Chores: From clearing the snow from a pathway to cutting the grass, harsh weather can cause issues for all of us. Offering your services could prevent an injury in the more physically frail and your kindness will unlikely be forgotten, enabling you to assist further in the future in an environment of trust and friendship.
We all like to think that we can take care of ourselves in challenging circumstances, but even the strongest and bravest of us can still get a bit unnerved in the dark or startled by thunderous scuffle outside the front door. It’s a bit old hat and, perhaps, a bit toe-curling to say, but there is little wisdom greater than kindness. It is, or should, or can be, its own motive.
Why not introduce yourself today? What’s the worst that could happen?
Everybody needs good neighbours.