The best piece of kit you can buy for your house is not a state-of-the-art security system, not three different colours of gravel for the ornamental garden and definitely not a doorbell that plays an array of chintzy tunes including “You Are My Sunshine”. The most valuable item you will ever buy for your property is a set of net curtains.
This magical piece of material that hangs on a covered elasticated wire across the width of your window not only prevents passers-by from looking in but also allows you to see out without being noticed.
I have perfected my “neighbourhood watch scheme” from behind my net curtains. I stand slightly back from the window so that I don’t cast a shadow and ensure that there is no light behind me; all the light has to be on the subject outside or you’ll end up putting yourself on show like a mannequin in a shop window.
I loved living on a council estate because it was never boring. From my secret vantage point I saw parties, arguments, break-ups, make-ups, blue lights, families of foxes hunting for food, dogs shitting, their owners pretending not to notice, cars being dumped and torched, underage drinkers, drug deals, fights, prostitutes touting their wares and their clients baring theirs – and you learn early enough not to involve yourself... I mean, we watch reality TV shows for entertainment but we don’t necessarily want to be part of them, do we? Plus, the “laws” of council estate territory are a whole other story (or blog post).
If you’re not lucky enough to have all this happening on your doorstep then make something up. That bloke who always walks past at 7.30pm ON THE DOT - where is he going? That woman who visits number 18 – why is she there?
So, invest in a set of net curtains and next time there’s nothing on television (next Wednesday?) turn all the lights out, spin your chair round to face the window and settle in for some of the best free entertainment you’ll ever get.
This blog post was written for Workshop #13 - Give your curtains a twitch and dish the dirt on the neighbours - run by Josie at Sleep Is For The Weak