Keeping up with the Joneses (sort of)

In the long summer days Eleanor Doughty has discovered a new way to pass the time. Just don't tell the neighbours

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The Independent Online

Recently I have devised a new pass-time. It’s called stare-out-of-the-window-at-the-new-neighbours. No, third year hasn’t crippled me already – especially as it hasn’t (officially) started yet. It just seems too good an opportunity to pass up. It’s riveting.

You see, a few weeks ago some new idiots moved in opposite my window. Strictly speaking they’re not next door but as I can see their every sitting room, garden and back bedroom move, I feel we’re now neighbours.  And like with the previous tenants, it’s quite revealing. My flatmate and I came up with some names for them. We know they couldn’t possibly be real because no one names their children that anymore. (And, no, I haven’t turned into Katie Hopkins, so button it.) There are two girls, Carol and Loreen, and two boys, Tim (nice but dim) and Tarquin.  Word tried to correct it to ‘Tarquinii’ which I thought even better before realising it's the name of an ancient Italian city and not an unsuspecting public school boy.

Since the new gangs first sighting, I have seen others lurking within the walls. It’s all very Cluedo. Loreen’s room is closest to mine which means I can see everything. And as I happen to love sitting on my windowsill, it's unfortunate for both of us. Playing stare-out-of-the-window-at-the-next-neighbours is a bit like playing The Sims, except with less control. As someone who enjoyed years of sustained Sims playing, it is delightful. But disappointingly, there’s no Matilda effect – they don’t move rooms when my eyes command them to.

If I could I’d be cracking out the Control+Shift+C, then rosebud!;!;!;!;!;... to replenish my bank account.  I’d also rebuild my flat on Upper Street and plop a gym into the currently nonexistent basement, because that’s what you can do on The Sims. But as I can’t do any of that, I’ll settle for (dreaming of) landscaping their garden so it slopes up and feeds into my bedroom window. Because obviously, with this weather, I suddenly require a garden. I wonder how they’d feel about it.

All good things must (temporarily) come to an end. One fateful day this week, we were brought back to earth with a thump: Loreen spotted our faces through the curtains. My sidelight had illuminated us.  It’s been a few days since we last got nosy and I’m a little withered. But if withdrawal symptoms are the worst plague of such jollities, then knock yourself out. Because if nothing else, your neighbours can provide some kind of distraction. And in the weeks before a return to the loony bin, our last ounces of freedom must be spent well.

For, wherever you are, whatever university or college you’re at, whether you’re on the street or in bed, there is nothing like a good people-watch. And if anyone asks, you do sociology. Or at least that’s my excuse.

Eleanor Doughty is a second-year student at Queen Mary, University of London. Follow her on Twitter here. She probably won't follow you back.