Laura in an unguarded moment
The one thing about living in a block of flats is not having to worry about the roof leaking. Yes, you do have to live with the people upstairs having a pet elephant, and the bloke downstairs having a prediliction for thrashing, noisy sex at three in the morning, but as Paul Weller says, that’s entertainment. So, when we finally moved into a real live house, the first thing that happened was the discovery of the Great Lake of the Back Bedroom. Arses.
Brother-in-law very kindly lent me his longest, springiest ladder; and terrified, I started my ascent to my doom. I hate heights. I really, truly hate them. It’s not the fact that I’m so far up, after all, I’ve safely stood on top of the Eiffel Tower with no problems; it’s the knowledge that with one slip, I could end up looking like someone from those industrial safety videos they insist on showing at work.
Whimpering, I reached the top, and immediately found the problem. Water had collected on the roof, and instead of flowing off into the guttering, had leaked through some loose flashing around the chimney and into the house. No problem - straight down to B&Q for all the bits, and I was straight up there fixing the roof like an old pro.
Feeling particularly bullet-proof on this glorious summer’s day, I stood up to admire the view across the rooftops and gardens of my new street. And that’s when I saw Laura for the first time. My heart skipped a beat at this vision of womanhood. Gods, she was ugly. And naked. We had moved next door to the Munsters Naturist Colony.
“Hello,” she said, looking up from her book.
“Bwaargh!” I replied, clinging on to the TV ariel for dear life.
“You just moved in then?” she said, scratching the stretch-marks just above her fanny.
“Bwaargh! Yes, last week. Help!”
She then proceeded to engage me in conversation for no less than twenty minutes; me on the roof, shouting replies to the banshee sprawled butt-naked on a sun-bed next door. A perfectly reasonable conversation, held at one hundred decibels, with me trying not to shout out “For God’s sake woman I can see your beave! Put it away in the name of sanity!”
It was at this point that her husband Roger joined her in the garden. Naked as the day he was born, except for a rather ill-fitting hair-piece, and hung like a donkey. If he wasn’t careful, he could have somebody’s eye out.
“Roger,” said Laura, pointing skywards, “This is our new neighbour, Scary.”
In the time-honoured tradition, I made my excuses and left; choosing to jump thirty feet into a flower bed rather than waste thirty terrifying seconds on the ladder, sustaining only minor injuries When I finally reached safety Mrs Duck was quick to ask me about my first encounter with the people next door. I told her. She was not impressed.
We lived there for seven years, and credit to Laura and Wiggy, they never once mentioned the nudity thing in polite company. I, on the other hand, unable to engage them in conversation without the fear of being bludgeoned to death by a giant toupeed trouser snake, told everybody on the street. They needed to be warned. Ugly people in the corner house.
Flee! Flee for your lives!