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Being neighbourly seems a weakness

PUBLISHED: 11:02 23 May 2008 | UPDATED: 20:27 05 July 2010

WHAT is it about the British and neighbours?

Millions sit glued to the TV in fascination every night lapping up neighbourly relations in Coronation Street, Eastenders, Emmerdale, Neighbours and more.

WHAT is it about the British and neighbours?

Millions sit glued to the TV in fascination every night lapping up neighbourly relations in Coronation Street, Eastenders, Emmerdale, Neighbours and more.

But in real life, no one wants to be or have neighbours. In every street someone's not speaking to someone else, feuds rage about petty squabbles, old grievances simmer, neighbours spy and report on each other for suspected wrong doings, take sides against individuals and residents living just yards from each other avoid each other's eyes on their garden paths to not “get involved”.

People today want to keep themselves to themselves. If they do communicate, it's about niggles over garden boundaries, noise complaints or some grumble or others. I know of next-door neighbours refusing to speak for no reason other than one has bought a new car/kitchen/conservatory and the other is jealous.

Some people refuse to even welcome new neighbours simply because “they're not our type of person”, whatever that might mean.

It's bizarre that the people closest to us, who we might need one day in a crisis or emergency, become sworn enemies for no other reason than they live next door. Or because we're afraid they might want to get too chummy.

It seems popping next door for a cup of sugar or, like the old Gold Blend advert, when we've run out of coffee is history.

Life is too short to fall out with people on our doorstep but we do it anyway. Being “neighbourly” is now seen as more of a weakness than a virtue. So last century.

A new survey states only a third of neighbours speak to each other once a year and almost half questioned wish their neighbours would sling their hook.

A shocking 21pc had never even spoken to their neighbours and 6pc thought a hello once a year was enough. No wonder some people lay dead in their homes unnoticed for weeks at a time.

Most neighbour hostility seems to be in the middle classes where one upmanship rules with a keeping-up-with-the Joneses attitude. Everyone knows what his or her neighbours are buying but know nothing about them.

In towns and cities neighbours wouldn't recognise each other in the street, let alone stop to chat.

And villages are no more neighbourly. A friend revealed his was a hotbed of argy bargy and fall-outs - hardly the Archers. Long-running stand-offs, people not speaking, grudges, slights, taking offence, snobbery.

HHe told tales of pet poisonings, vandalism, fights, people refusing to investigate when their neighbour's burglar alarm sounded “on principle” then writing a stroppy letter that the alarm had been “unneighbourly.”

Ignoring neighbours is why any sense of community and caring is long gone in many areas today. Falling out with them is petty and small-minded.

Good neighbours who look out for you are worth their weight in gold. Freeze them out at your peril - you never know when you might need them.

Who knows, make an effort and you might even like them.

HEALTH Secretary Alan Johnson is wasting his £6m on the slick TV preaching campaign nannying the middle-classes to keep their wine glasses in the cupboard and sup Horlicks at night instead.

The middle-classes can't afford wine any more - let alone Horlicks - as household economies bite and debt advice centres report a 500pc rise in professional families seeking help with their over-stretched finances.

Isn't it alarming though that a collection of Whitehall bright sparks even contemplated the easy target G&T and the couple of glasses of Chablis a night brigade as the nation's big serious health risk let alone chuck the best part of £6m to try to stop them?

Especially when every night young under-developed livers are being pickled and rotted by alcopops and gallons of cut-price booze is being puked into the gutter. But that's a real issue and real issues are hard to solve and useless for statistics.

EVERY day I ferry my two sons to school by car. I chose an out-of-catchment school for them so they've no choice but to spend 15 minutes in the car on country roads there and back.

Their education might have benefited but their road sense is abysmal, especially my younger son who believes, like Spiderman, he would spring back to life if mown down by a car because he's never really walked in built-up areas.

That's the problem. We live in a village with no pavements and little traffic. He's taken to school in a car. I regularly parked a way from the school to practice road crossing but it's an unrealistic situation.

So I'm guilty of what the charity Living Streets says is putting children at greater risk of road accidents when they're older. Children like mine don't know how to negotiate traffic and are not traffic-wise because they don't have to.

My children aren't unusual. More families are moving out to rural areas with their children to protect them from the worst aspects of urban areas but, by protecting them, are exposing them to greater risks later on.

We can't win. Perhaps instead of the pointless testing of our children, the Government could re-instate the Green Cross Man and bring the Green Cross Code back to our schools. It would save lives and serve our children and the nation far better than sitting SATS.

WAITY-Katie - as Kate Middleton is apparently known for doing nothing other than hanging around waiting for a marriage proposal - is off to swanky Mustique on holiday next week with Prince William.

How many holidays do they need? Life for Kate is one long holiday.

As an educated young woman, she should be going out of her mind with boredom doing absolutely nothing. It's years since she graduated and since then all she's had is a bitty part-time job with her parents' friends' company Jigsaw. She still lives at home with her parents, is either funded by them or Prince William or both and her mission in life is to be a princess one day.

But real life is no fairy tale, as a previous princess found to her cost. And to many royal bride through the ages has discovered what happens when she ceases to excite or entertain our royal males.

Kate's underemployed brain must be like porridge. She must be so boring. She should be careful that all this waiting could turn her stagnant and send William into the arms of someone independent, sparky and focused - like he thought she once was.

POLITICIANS who latch on to rock songs to look streetwise and pick up votes is pathetic, cringeworthy and moreover, so transparent.

David Cameron adopting former Red Wedge supporter Paul Weller and the Jam's Eton Rifles doesn't do him any favours.

Did Old Etonian Cameron think he'd look cool to say he'd adopted the song for the Eton cadet force he joined at 12? Durr.

The whole song was an angry satire against inequality in Britain inspired by posh Eton boys jeering and mocking right-to-work marchers as they passed the college, not a celebration of privilege for boys like Cameron.

HEARD it all now….brides-to-be are now choosing their gowns first and then pumping up their breasts to fill them.

Breast enlargement clinics report a surge in young women ordering new boobs to fill out their slinky frocks as the dying trend for meringue-style frou-frou dresses is replaced by the sleek, glamorous fitted look.

At least the new breasts might be a better investment than the husband in the long run - and hang around for longer.

THE absolute last person I'd want swanning into my house with diet advice - apart from perhaps Jodie Marsh or the Cheeky Girl to marry Lembit Opik - would be Fearsome Fergie.

The Duchess in Hull, steering a family drowning in fry-ups and pies on to five a day, tells us all how she's full of self-loathing and views herself as fat and ugly.

A tip then - stay off the TV and do us all a favour and stay away from photographers and make a living in the background rather than courting publicity for yourself and your daughters and then moaning about it.

WE don't need yet another bank holiday - and we certainly shouldn't spend it paying homage to the armed forces.

While I've every respect for anyone who chooses the Army, RAF or Navy as a career, it is his or her choice. There's no conscription, they do it because these careers feel exciting, challenging and anything but humdrum. Nobody chooses to sign up for philanthropic or saving mankind motives.

And I'm not sure service personnel would appreciate the country and its business grinding to a halt in their name.

This loony idea is a knee jerk reaction from a shame-faced government for sending our troops into areas where we have no business.

A measly bank holiday is more an after-thought than an honour and is an embarrassing token to try to make amends for so many mistakes.

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