Sometimes, when I can’t sleep, I go to an upstairs front window and look out onto the street below in the grey light. In the daytime, it is a main artery into the town, with a couple of school time pulses of activity, but at night it is empty and quiet. There are wide verges of grass before the front gardens, and in the shadows it is incredibly peaceful.

I moved here about a year before lockdown, and so I know most of neighbours in surrounding houses by sight and viewed their daily activities because of Lock down boredom observation. The middle-aged couple, who trim their hedges with precision, the daughter who emerges and goes somewhere. Next door to them carers come every morning, I see the first neighbour helping them by putting the bins out every week, and a young couple (presumably son /daughter plus partner) visit frequently after lock-down easing, unloading/loading suitcases to their modest car. A few doors down, the cyclist on his Sunday lycra clad excursion, a fine specimen of a sportsman. At night from my sleeplessness, I peer into the semi light of the street and feel the warmth, thinking of the familiar daytime sights and am comforted.

I also know neighbours through a street whatsapp group set up after Covid started. Here I recognise some names which keep coming up, the postman, the foodbank volunteer, other people offer things they have or can’t get (a few bricks for a garden project, a builders pallet etc), a sort of mini free-cycle.

So in this way I know neighbours and feel the community, even though they are somewhat hidden, and the identities are elusive. Either I know the face or the name, or some idiosyncratic habit they may have (the early morning jogger). The feeling is good.

Similarly, on Moodscope, I know the scopers through a veil, their handles, their comments, a vague location, a few family details but what they sound or look like is a mystery (apart from the velvet voice and golden sight of Lex in his videos). In the same way I am comforted by the scopers, familiarity, consistency and regularity.

I wonder if the magic would be broken and the fragility of the community disrupted if the connection was more visible? From my physical neighbours, on the whats app group I saw a few opinions I didn’t agree with, it was easy to hide in the shadows and not enter an electronic debate, it would be more difficult if we were speaking. On balance, I think as Covid eases, I would like to know my street neighbours more, but will go gently and expansion will be gradual as I explore new personalities and the richness of the tapestry that surrounds me.

What are you planning to expand? If anything?

A Moodscope member.

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