Close knit, so lovely and quiet?


One can almost have a printed version ready. Each time a murder is committed in a suburban street we read ‘This is a very quiet street.’ ‘People are nice.’ ‘They keep to themselves.’ ‘This is a close knit community.’ ‘She sometimes said hello.’ ‘He/she was really nice.’

The above comments are often made by neighbours next door or living opposite. Today, another sad death in a suburban street was in the news. Police are suspicious. There was a lot of blood. Fortunately, a baby was found unharmed. Here are some comments made by people living in the same street.

“It’s terrible. She was such a nice woman, kept to herself, but was pleasant,” said one man who lives across the road. Another man, who was walking his dog this morning, said he couldn’t believe it when he turned on the news.” This area is really quiet — people just keep to themselves — but to hear that a mother was killed and her baby survived, well that’s just awful,” he said.”

Of course, neighbourly friendships and keeping an eye out for each other is what good working communities are about.  One often sees this portrayed in advertisements. Advertisements  show the opposite of reality which makes them so attractive  to the consumer. Neighbourly men casually chatting over the paling fence discussing a juicy funeral protection insurance with happy smiling wives hugging her children is one example. But, that happy image. Does that hold true? Why are we so keen on those paling fences?

We are being urged to keep closer contact with our family and friends. Campaigns are set up to make people aware of how important human contact is. Saying ‘how are you going’ is the aim of those campaigns. I am not sure that we have a society that is so close knit. Privacy seems to be very liked. We might wave a hand across the road, but how often do we visit our neighbours, hang over the fence and chat?

“She was a nice woman, kept to herself, but was pleasant.”  A very sad statement by the man living opposite.

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17 Responses to “Close knit, so lovely and quiet?”

  1. janesmudgeegarden Says:

    We used have more to do with our neighbours when we lived in Sydney. Here, we are by far the oldest people in our street and although we know who our neighbours are, we don’t have anything to do with many of them. We are too old and uninteresting. Fortunately, there are lots of other old and uninteresting folk in town who are good friends.

    Liked by 3 people

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      We live in a commonly owned property containing 8 town-houses or, for the snobby ones, ‘villas.’
      I was hoping for a nice community and put out some seating and a barbeque in a shared piece of garden. I though I would try and develop prawns on the BBQ soirees.

      It did not happen. Of course, when our cyclamen got stolen repeatedly, the community became a warren of suspicion and animosity. We ended up using industrial strength adhesive to bed our cyclamen down on heavy cement tiles. Hardly a close-knit community.

      So far, no murder.


  2. shoreacres Says:

    The apartment complex where I live is built in such a way that contact with others is limited. It’s pleasant, and certainly ensures a high degree of privacy, but an occasional word on the stairs or in the parking lot is about it. Of course, we have a relatively high turnover rate, too, since many residents are young people doing internships at NASA, or engineers from around the world here for a six-month stint, or people renting until they can afford a house. And since most commute to work, they generally are gone early and home late.

    But I’ve had the experience of growing up in a neighborhood, and I’ve lived in small towns where everyone knows everyone, and knows everything about everyone, for that matter. When I was younger, I wasn’t so happy about that. Now? I’d move back to a small town in a minute if I could.

    Liked by 4 people

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      We are slowly trying to gain back a level of friendliness between the neighbours. I bring back the garbage bins for some neighbours after they have been emptied by the council. So far no one has acknowledged that gesture but that’s alright. I’ll keep going.

      In Australia we generally don’t keep the blinds or curtains open. This makes it difficult to gain any insight of what goes on. If we are to care about each other we should open up to others more too. Privacy is obsessive and often used in advertising real-estate. ‘Privacy till the grave’, they say.

      On TV we are being bombarded by messages of how we should become more inclusive. Often programs dealing with murder in the suburbs feature phone numbers for those who might feel depressed and need help and talk to someone to lighten life’s heaviness.

      The cyclamen stealing episode is over and we have lots of potted plants outside without any adhesive. I remember your wisdom, Linda. You said ‘don’t give the issue any oxygen’. Some people just like discord and indeed thrive on it.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. kaytisweetlandrasmussen83 Says:

    As a military (Navy) child, we moved so often I never had close relationships. Since then we have lived in both kinds. Now we are the oldest on the block, and only interesting to ourselves so other than short conversations, people keep to themselves. It is interesting though, to see that the news depicts the same reaction to a dastardly deed. No one really knows anyone anymore. Sad.

    Liked by 1 person

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      We are the oldest on the block too, Kayti. The street so far has been murder free. Last night it came close. Some young people were carrying on with the help of alcohol. After about 2am it became rowdy and a young man grappled with a woman who then took out her cell-phone and filmed the assault.

      I was standing in my pyjamas upstairs watching the noisy brawl though the blinds. I contemplated calling the police but did not.
      At about 5 o’clock it finally calmed down and daylight was announcing itself.
      I took half a Mersyndol to try and overcome the noise and mayhem & nervous excitement. I was so tired and needed sleep. Helvi was downstairs and spared the noise. She slept soundly.

      I like neighbourly exchanges but this was one step too far.


  4. algernon1 Says:

    Yes the cliches Gerard, there are others like they were a pillar of the community. It’s almost like the reporters are playing wank word bingo with these comments. Always a good bloke when he’s dead but in reality was completely the opposite.

    It was sad this alleged murder.

    Some years ago when Mrs A and I lived in a block of home units we had an old school friend of hers stay along with mutual friends of both of them from England. After a nice night out we headed home saying to them it’s really a quite street were not much happens.

    Well we turned into our home street only to be greeted by ambulances and police cars. Someone had gone wild with a knife, one dead and seven injured. I knew of the old lady who was murdered, lovely women alway ready for a chat, knew one of the injured who lived in our complex. It took her a while to leave her flat.

    The trigger for the rampage, a dog barking.

    Liked by 1 person

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Dog barking, parking disputes and Christmas shopping are trigger points for murder, Algy.
      Already shops are selling Christmas ware and I saw the first of a clenched fist shaking at a young belligerent child keen on some Christmas minced pies.
      Referrals to psychiatrists and counsellors are going through the roof around this time. Even dogs are getting nervous.
      I have always chased communal living as being ideal but I am not so sure it exists. The best I now hope for is when walking with our dog Milo, people stop to pat him and I then try and sneak in a few words.
      Of course with Helvi I could not be better situated. She loves talking and cheers me up with her laughter. It is love.

      Liked by 2 people

  5. kaytisweetlandrasmussen83 Says:

    How frightening Gerard. Glad it didn’t turn deadly.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. petspeopleandlife Says:

    It is true that most neighborhoods are cold and indifferent and no one knows almost no one. It is the same in my hood. I speak with two long time neighbors who are in the same economic and education as I but, I see them only once in a while because those folks are at work or engrossed in their own lives.

    I Iive in a transitioned hood. Two upper middle class and wealthy additions are very near me. I know a retired couple the addition next to me but I hardly see them since they travel most of the time.

    I don’t see much change for the better happening in the states or in Australia. I don’t know about the rest of the world.

    Liked by 1 person

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Loneliness is now getting a big problem We have lost the art of communicating. Facebook is taking its revenge. I am pleased that we are still in communication mode, Ivonne. The same goes for the others as well. So, the internet does give some relief to loneliness. Meeting for real in person is for me very much limited to shoppers and Milo fans.
      My bowling club is good too but my lack of hearing is a bit of a nuisance. I know that most of my co-bowlers talk about sport, so, I throw in a line about Roosters or St George which I hope are connected to Rugby or football.

      Liked by 1 person

      • petspeopleandlife Says:

        Gerard, why are you not wearing hearing aids? Have I missed something in a post about you not wanting to wear a hearing device?

        Liked by 1 person

      • gerard oosterman Says:

        Ivonne, I have worn hearing aids for some 25 years now. With regular check-ups I get stronger and better hearing aids.
        Even so, hearing aids don’t prevent hearing from deteriorating which is happening to me. My hearing aids are now limited and I struggle with conversations.
        In a couple of weeks I will again get my hearing checked. The advances made in the hearing technology will hopefully come up with better aids.


  7. doesitevenmatter3 Says:

    Such an important topic, Gerard. And that story is sad and frightening. 😦

    I think with social media/computers, etc., people have become cocooned and are isolating themselves more. Especially from neighbors. 😦

    We live in a neighborhood (a short street with 7 houses on it) and everyone speaks to each other and sometimes bring Christmas goodies in Dec, etc. After I had my cancer surgery 3 years ago some brought food over. But, we still don’t know each other as well as we ought to. 😦 Three of the house are rentals so the people come and go too quickly and they are much younger folk than those of us who own our homes.

    I miss the days when there were block parties, neighbors gathered on porches to talk, and so much more.


    Liked by 1 person

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Yes, Carolyn. Our western society is very much one of keeping privacy and hiding our feelings.
      This is why we liked going to Bali where everyone knows everybody and lives are lived in the open and on the streets. A constant cacophony of laughter and noise. No fences or borders indicating what is mine and what is yours. Sharing food. As soon as you meet someone they will offer you their home and food.
      It is a different world.

      In the past we too did have street parties and getting together with music and laughter. I don’t know what happened. I suppose consumerism has got us in a tight grip. Someone said; “Greed is the love-child of capitalism”.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. rangewriter Says:

    Ha, I thought that was a very American response to violence in the ‘hood. I think safety is helped when neighbors make themselves get to know each other. This is challenging when everyone is so busy with work and activities. But through grass roots neighborhood events, it can happen. Actually, I think a tragedy or a theft often initiates a stronger neighborhood cohesion, which is a little counter-intuitive…


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