When we first moved in to Lorikeet Lane we met two out of four of our immediate neighbours – one of whom was Scottish. Hurra, I thought. Someone to have a glass of wine with or a cup of tea. It’s always so refreshing hearing the Scottish accent when you’re away, and you feel an immediate bond in the ‘life away from family and friends in this strange foreign land’ sort of way.
The initial meeting with both neighbours had been pleasant enough, but since we’d been away a lot, I hadn’t really got the chance to build on that beyond a quick wave or hello. So today I decided, after taking Angus on a little scout around, to pop in and say hello. I thought it would be nice to invite said ‘Scottish’ neighbour up to the house for tea and chat. I also thought (since I’d heard a dog) it would be a great way to socialise Angus – meet some nice Scottish people and possibly a doggy friend close by.
I rang the doorbell and waited. Crazy dog barking ensued. A new face came to the door. I hadn’t met the daughter. She crept out of the house and closed the door behind her and was speaking in hushed tones. Oh, I thought, obviously someone sleeping or not well – or something.
“Sorry, did I call at a bad time? I ask nervously.
“No, no … you must be Evie,” she said.
I took this as a positive sign that her mother must have mentioned me and I began chatting away. She was totally enamoured with little Angus who didn’t know whether to jump and lick her face all over or wag his tail until it fell off. The barking behind the closed door ramped up as if the unseen dog knew just what her young owner was up to behind the closed door – betraying her.
“I’m sorry about Molly,” she says. “She’s 9 years old and she’s nuts. She hates everybody and she hates other dogs”, she says eying Angus with gentle concern. “She’s an ex-police dog so .. you know…”
“Oh!” I’m beginning to realise Angus isn’t going to make his first friend here today. It was ticking through my brain that ex-police dogs would be pretty well behaved and used to people. Perhaps this police dog witnessed something so damaging he had to be kept separate from the whole of humanity… who could say. Maybe he was just old and crotchety like we all get. Fair enough. I barge on. “Well I was really just popping in to say you are most welcome to come up for a coffee or a glass of wine if you like – I was going to ask your mum…”
I wasn’t prepared for the cloud that fell across her face … “oh,” she said …”I’ll just get my mum … but I don’t think … anyway, hold on.” I stood with Angus at the front. He wasn’t picking up on the signs that maybe we weren’t as welcome here as I’d first hoped. His tail was still wagging furiously.
After much discussion behind the closed door, mum appeared looking wiping hands on a dishcloth. It put me in mind of my childhood for some reason.
“I’m sorry,” I say again. “I’ve obviously come at a bad time. I only came to ask if you fancied coming up for a tea or a glass of wine some time – I mean not today if you’re busy but any other time – feel free.”
“No. We don’t do that sort of thing. We’re not social. But thanks for the offer.”
“Oh…OK,” I stand blinking, unsure what to do next.
That’s when she spotted Angus and turned into a different person. “Oh but I love you…” she said bending down to greet Angus. “I love you.” This was followed by many cuddles and much smooching. Angus was beside himself with joy.”
I felt the words just blether over without a filter. “Oh well. No problem. I just thought since we were both Scottish … oh I don’t know. Anyway, the offer still stands if you change your mind.” (I thought because we were Scottish??? hmm I’ll need to work on my ‘making friends routine.’)
I take my pup and go. I’m somewhat surprised that someone has kindly but gently pushed away the hand of friendship – but hey some people aren’t sociable I guess. Maybe that’s why she’s living on a property away from the rest of the human race. She doesn’t want to be bothered about the niceties with people like me- and neither does her dog. I don’t really blame either of them.
Angus is oblivious – he’s not the one that’s been rejected. He trots down the path with his nose glued to the ground. He seems to be on the scent of a skink or a duck perhaps. I can’t be too upset with the Scottish woman. After all, she loved my little ferocious pup so that makes her alright in my book.
As we walk to the bottom of the path, I can see our other neighbour has moved the cows to the paddock opposite. I soon forget about the Scottish woman. The two calves I’ve been watching from a farther paddock for the last few weeks are right in front of us and I’m excited to meet them and introduce Angus.
We exchanged some meaningful pleasantries and Angus joined in in his usual enthusiastic manner. The calves humoured us for a few moments as their mother looked on, before nonchalantly sauntering off in the direction of some shade.
In chatting with the calves, we’ve come to the conclusion Mrs Scottish lady and her daughter (who also sounds Scottish) is probably in a witness protection program or at the very least just has a very jealous dog – perhaps husband. Probably much more creative and more exciting than the truth. Ah well, who needs people when you are surrounded by the sights and sounds of nature and the company of a loving pup.