Maude keeps an eye on the local property market in the hope that her dream-house exists in Rowlands Gill and has just been hiding behind some large trees.
‘Look at this one. It even has a name. Look it’s on the gatepost on an old sign. Can’t read the first word, but the second word is ‘lodge’.'
‘We could just stay here and give this house a name if you want…’
‘No we couldn't. It’s semi-detached. A house has to be detached to merit a name of its own. There are semi-detached people around here who have indulged: one of them is claiming that their house is a ‘cottage’ and that couple with the Qashqai have come up with a combination of their first names that reads like a character from ‘The Hobbit’. ‘
I was at a loss as to which couple Maude meant, as every other household in the neighbourhood has a Qashqai.
‘It does have a great outbuilding,’ I observed.
‘You see, you’d love that. You could spend lots of time in there. Writing, or whatever it is you do….You like small spaces. ‘
I couldn’t disagree with this. I do like a room in which I can see everything I own and, ideally, reach it all from the bed.
‘You were never happier than when you lived in that bedsit next door to Archie.....until I moved in….’
‘You were just the final piece of the jigsaw puzzle darling.’
That flat wasn’t ideal, though. The upstairs neighbour was a big Elvis fan and liked to share this love when he wasn’t ‘KP-ing’. I had to ask what ‘KP-ing’ was:
‘It’s Kitchen Portering.’ He said this as though I was an imbecile.
My neighbour was short, balding and middle-aged. His name was Ian, but he was such an admirer of The King that he preferred to be addressed as ‘Elvis’.
I preferred to call him Ian.
In his efforts to unwind after a hard ‘KP-ing’ shift Ian was in the habit of playing the live version of ‘American Trilogy’ or ‘In the Ghetto’, or anything else he could get his hands on from the King’s portly Vegas years. I suspect that he identified best with the Elvis of that era. I also suspected that he dressed the part and I could hear some of his moves on the floor above as he sang along.
Maude and I liked to play music too. We’d laugh and talk and play selections from our newly merged cd collection into the small hours. Ian would knock on his floor/our ceiling on occasion - sometimes when we were just talking. With the thoughtlessness of young love we would forget that Ian’s shifts began before breakfast, when porters were most obviously needed in kitchens. I reminded Maude that ‘Elvis’ was alive and well in 1993 and lived upstairs from us.
‘Oh, that nutter. Didn’t he burst in with a knife one night when he thought we were making too much noise?’
‘Technically yes, but it was only a butter knife. The worst he could have inflicted would have been a nasty spread.’