So there’s an English man, an Irish man and a Scottish man…no this isn’t the intro to a slightly xenophobic gag, this actually describes my road’s demographic.
Betwixt my lovely Danish neighbours in my little village, there is an English man…me; and a Scottish guy; can’t remember his name – been in Denmark for 14 years, 2 kids, Danish wife, we plan to share a beverage – seems cool. And there’s an Irish man, at least I’m told there is. I’ve never seen him.
I’ve lived here now almost 6 months, I work from home and his front door is about 47 seconds away from ours; but I’ve NEVER seen the dude! He doesn’t cut his grass. His curtains seem glued shut. He’s never seen walking, only riding his motorbike (I’m told) and his Vitamin E levels must be shockingly low. The thing is, I can’t help but feel he’s letting the side down. Not that he’s willingly enrolled to be on this or any other side for that matter, but he just is – regardless; much in the way a face of ethnicity is when I spot one in my local town.
We look at each other, make eye contact, nod and if there’s a real connection, smile. That nod says it all: “Wow, you’re another black person! I’m not the only one!” There’s an old African lady who I see from time to time, who always looks as though she’s fighting the urge to come over and hug me, tightly.
I feel you old African lady…I feel you!
When you’re in an unfamiliar environment, you find commonality in the furthest of places. Take my friendly Scottish neighbour. If we were neighbours in the UK, we’d talk in the fleeting way neighbours do, but would we go out for a drink? Er, I doubt it to be honest. Not that the guy isn’t nice; he is, but I just think we’d probably move in different circles. HERE in Denmark, where we’re the ‘foreigners’, Scottish guy was biting my hand off to arrange a beer. He saw our common ground. I was on his team.
So back to our village’s other English speaking resident. I can’t help but think the Danes are judging me by his uncouth behaviour, so I cut our hedges to within an inch of their precision trimmed lives. Everyone else on my road either has a sit on mower or gardener. I have a cheap ‘Flymo’, but rest assured that said sub-standard garden appliance gets worked like an Apple rep on new iPhone day.
Do I enjoy gardening? HELL NO! Do I possess any green fingers? Er..nope, can’t say I do. But do I sit back at the end of a hard day’s gardening knowing I did my bit for ‘the team’? Oh yes! And as I pack away my harassed Flymo and water the veg patch, I look across at my Scottish neighbour weeding with a look of disgruntlement. We nod at each other. We find our common ground. We’re on the same team.
My mum and wife inspecting my work.