Behind closed doors
Many years ago we lived in the hell hole that is Suburbia.
It was an in between period between moving out of Wicklow and moving back in again.
The house that we lived in was in a typically bland, huge, characterless estate with all the houses crammed as close as possible. When you’re used to open spaces, Suburbia is damned crowded.
At the time I had a very nice stereo system. It was one of those modular ones with an amplifier, a turntable, a twin cassette deck, a tuner and of course the speakers [a mixture of Sansui and Sony, if anyone is interested]. Naturally I had this set up in the living room.
One day – it must have been at the weekend as normally I’d be at work – I was messing with the tuner switching between stations when a voice boomed out of the speakers. What was weird was that I recognised the voice. It was one of our neighbours. He would talk for a while and then there would be a period of silence before he spoke again. I realised I was listening to his cordless telephone.
I was in a sticky situation. Should I carry on listening or should I do the decent thing and respect his privacy? Of course I listened in! What was interesting was that I knew his Missus went off to some group every week and that Neighbour was talking to someone else. Even more interesting was the tone of the conversation – all lovey dovey and how he couldn’t wait to meet her again. So Neighbour had a Ride-on-the-Side? The dirty git! Fair play to him.
Herself caught me doing my little eavesdropping session. She castigated and chastised me for being so nosey and then took a note of the frequency for herself. Sure enough she occasionally tuned in and reported back to me. Neighbour’s Missus apparently phoned her sister on a regular basis and spent the entire sessions giving out yards about her husband – how he was a miserable old shit and mean with the money and how she loved the peace and quiet when he was out of the house. She referred to him as “The Old Bastard” or occasionally as “The Old Fucker”.
So he was off shagging his bit of fluff while she hated his guts? A fairly typical marriage?
What was very interesting was that this couple gave the appearance of the extremely happy couple. As far as the world was concerned they had the perfect marriage in the perfect house. They did everything together [especially when gardening in the front] and had bought a little caravan so they could go off on little holidays together. They chatted away together in the garden and there was never a cross word. They were well known in the estate as a very close couple. They were picture perfect.
Strange how the radio told a different story…..
Did you once soak him with garden hose, or was he on the other side?
I categorically deny that was me! [It was Herself what done it]
“They were well known in the estate as a very close couple. They were picture perfect”
Comedian Jasper Carrot once observed that when people are interviewed by TV crews after a fight (or worse) broke out in their area, those involved are always described as “Such nice, normal people – they always kept themselves to themselves”
I remember listening to an irate truck driver in the early days of (analogue) mobile phones. They used frequencies which could be picked up on most basic scanners. I soon realised this driver had broken down just short of a busy junction half a mile away. It was rush hour, and he was obviously speaking to his depot manager, and demanding prompt breakdown assistance. There were several calls, a few minutes apart, and each was more desperate and expletive ridden than the previous! I can’t remember if I walked down the road to observe the chaos…
In another life many decades ago, my job took me into vast numbers of domestic homes of all types. It was an eye-opener to one who’d had a fairly sheltered upbringing, the situations you encountered often defied description. What was most revealing was that the most bizarre things tended to be found in the most ‘respectable’ of homes, with the most apparently staid and respected people. Sounds like your eavesdropped neighbours would fit the bill nicely – albeit rather tame by some standards.
Ha, tis John and Mary from Fr Ted!