I had a friendly old person next door when I was growing up- and she was really important in my life- more important than any but the closest blood relative. She told me about going skating on a frozen lake in Canada and how our street in Croydon had been called "doodlebug alley" because it was on the route the V1 and V2 rockets took into London and how her husband- a Canadian pilot- had fished for dead Boches in flooded shell craters during the Great War and all sorts of fascinating things. She had a pond full of carp and frog spawn (in season) and foxes came into her garden from the woods (But not into ours for some reason) and her son was a radio operator with the Cunard Line and brought all sorts of American goodies home- like copies of Life magazine and packets of powdered chocolate pudding. She took me to the movies once and it was my first experience of silent comedy.
She wore her hair in a bun and for some reason I always think of her in grey. She had a cat and read the Daily Express and I used to be fascinated by the cartoon strips in the sheets of newspaper she put on the kitchen floor under the cat dishes. We took the Daily Telegraph- no cartoon strips in that.
Later- it meant nothing to me at the time- I learned that her sister had been the second Mrs Thomas Hardy. I remember her having a conversation with my mother about how former associates and servants of the Hardys had been publishing their reminiscences of life at Max Gate and how annoying it was.
A friendly old person next door is something to be