Out for our afternoon constitutional, we meet the moany old woman who lives in the upstairs maisonette next to our house. There's no "Happy Christmas" from her, just a good old moan about another of our neighbours, the man who lives below her. She has got a council form to fill in. She's just about had enough. She's confronted him about it and he was rude to her. She's spoken to the landlord who won't do anything about it.
The man next door has one of his children visiting - the boy with the football. The boy begins to play football indoors, against the wall. We hear the usual dull thud in the background.
A few minutes later we hear loud banging from next door upstairs. Loud banging which reverberates around the whole block. The old woman has been driven to bitter, wild retaliation.
I am about to get on my treadmill, the first chance I've had in a few days to sweat off the festive fayre. Before I begin, I decide to take out three empty beer cans to the recycling bin at the front of the house. Not wearing my glasses, but wearing shorts, teeshirt and trainers, I stagger into the cold dark.
The man next door gets out of his car, accompanied by the boy with the football. The dad asks me if I've had a good Christmas. He looks at the beer cans and says that he sees that I've had a good time. He says he noticed that I had a few too many on Christmas Day. I am caught in the glare of his headlights.
I hadn't seen him on Christmas Day. He must think it was me who was making all the noise. I don't know what to say. He says he doesn't get the chance to drink as much as he would like nowadays, not with four kids. The boy with the football glares at me.
I go inside and get on the treadmill.
The dull thuds commence.
The Affinities by Robert Charles WIlson – review
23 hours ago