There’s something strange in the neighbourhood

Outside of our neighbours’ entrance to our flats, there is a green box to be used for recycling glass, metal and plastic. Inside this box is a blue bag to be used for recycling cardboard. Sat on top of this bag, and almost hiding it from view are a number of full black bin bags. Next to the box is a pile of cardboard.

It has been this way for five weeks now. I have become obsessed with unveiling the culprit.

We live in a basement flat and have a different entrance to the four flats above us (as well as different rubbish receptacles) so we don’t see our neighbours very often and have little cause to speak to them but since bin-gate began, I have been paying more attention to them to try to discover which one of them could have done this. And it turns out, they’re all capable.

Flat 4

Very young and very shy. Managed to get him talking when picking up post and discovered that he has only just moved out of home and goes back every weekend so that Mummy can do his washing and he can ride his pony. Promising perpetrator as think it likely that he wouldn’t know where the rubbish is supposed to go. Also because he has a pony. So you know, is probably waiting for the butler to deal with it or something.

Flat 3

Air b’n’b flat. Only very occasionally used. Have looked the flat up on the website and know for a fact that visitors are asked to take all rubbish to the supermarket recycling centre around the corner to make sure that it’s disposed of. Also, think it unlikely that someone could generate this amount of rubbish in one or two nights.

Flat 2

PhD student lacking in friends. I know this because not long after moving in I ventured into the main hallway to check for post and was accosted by Flat 2, pulled into a far too vigorous handshake, welcomed to the building, given a potted history of all residents, including small insights into the comings and goings of their private lives, and assured that we were going to be ‘great friends’. This disturbing and exhausting encounter was followed a few weeks later by an early morning visit to ask us to take guardianship of a spare set of keys held together with the largest rubber duck keyring known to man. Obviously, I have done my best to avoid for the 18 months since. May have got rubbish dumping intentionally wrong in the vain hope that someone would come and talk to her about it.

Flat 1

Relatively new. Replaces a young couple who had short, seemingly perfunctory sex between 10pm and 10.15 pm most nights (our interaction with the flat above us is mostly through the floorboards that separate us).

We met Flat 1 when his newly installed shower started leaking into our kitchen. He’s a scouser who has clearly been smoking 40-a-day for the last 20 years. He walks with his legs akimbo as if he has spent so much time on a horse recently that his legs have forgotten how to close, but I can say with confidence that he does not now have, nor has ever had, a pony. I’ve only run into him once since then, when he proudly displayed a set of bruises on his arm and explained that he’d got them when he “got stuck into” a fight that broke out across the road over the bank holiday. Lovely. Suspect he doesn’t care about proper rubbish placement.

I sat at the window watching the bins last night ahead of rubbish pick up today in the hope that someone would slip up, muttering to myself about what terrible human beings our neighbours are only to be interrupted by my other half.

‘I wonder what they think of you,’ he said looking pointedly between me and the curtain I had swept aside and was using to hide myself from view. Now, there’s a thought.

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