Street of Ghosts

After a month of not posting here, I was planning to write about a wonderful day Celia and I spent in Margate last weekend. The prospect of five years of Boris Johnson as Prime Minister, the abandonment of safety nets for vulnerable refugees, the exclusion of Parliament from the final Brexit arrangements, all these combined with the worst cold and cough I have had in years meant I was, and to an extent remain, low in spirits.

But the wonderful day will have to wait.

Today we are a neighbourhood in shock and mourning. An elderly, frail neighbour died in a house fire this morning. Two weeks ago, her neighbour who lived in the property across the road died in her sleep. I can’t say I knew either woman well. The one who died today I would nod hello to, she sometimes nodded back. I had noted her decline over the last few years and knew friends of mine who live next door were supporting her. The manner of her death is the stuff of nightmares.

The woman who died two weeks ago I knew better. We would often chat when we met in the street, as we had just a few days before her death. She was quiet, anxious, gentle and vulnerable. She had had a spell in hospital with a broken hip and I was pleased to see her out and about again. We talked about her improving mobility and how family and neighbours had been looking after her cat and dog.

The loss of these two lives affects our community. We are sad, shocked, muted. When people tell you no one speaks to their neighbours in London they are wrong. I have lived here for such a long time. I still see in my mind the people I have known as neighbours who have died. To that number two more are added. Today my street is full of ghosts.

10 thoughts on “Street of Ghosts

  1. Dear Isobel, I can only say how deeply I understand your long silence and how sad is my soul after knowing about the loss of your two old neighbours.
    I am sending you as much of my affection and simpathy for you as I can gather!

  2. Oh how sad not a good beginning to the new year…it’s strange you say you speak to neighbours in such a built up environment in the city. We live in a village well actually classed as a “settlement” of some 20 houses about 5 miles from the nearest town or city. Whilst we speak regularly to our either side neighbours as regards the rest of the village we speak to about 2. When people walk past our gate some nod and some look away seemingly to avoid contact!

  3. I am so sorry. My heart breaks for the women that have died in your neighborhood. Terrifying about the woman in the fire. My hope for her is that she was overcome by smoke. Truly beyond terrifying. I am sorry you are in low spirits. Bad colds can take everything out of you. Hug MasterB or find a place you find happy or peaceful and take it easy. Hugs.

    • Thanks Pix. I feel the same about dying ina fire. Horrific. The first neighbour died in her sleep. It was unexpected, but she was due to start treatment for lung cancer, so may have been a blessing.
      MasterB demanding and getting lots of attention, but this evening I am off to the hear the poets listed for the TS Eliot prize which is always a great event.

    • It’s horrendous isn’t it? I am so glad she had good neighbours, so glad I live in a neighbourhood that is a community sharing its shock and sadness. Like you, I hope she was overcome with smoke and not aware.

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