Loving the spirit of the west

Greetings Westsiders! Yes it’s April already. Cricket is slowly giving way to football, the mornings are suddenly getting chilly, and the leaves are looking nervous. There is, however, nothing seasonal about The Westsider – and our newest edition has once again built on the one before.

There are many things I like about the west, but probably none appeal more than our sense of community. Yes, I realise how much of a cliché that sounds without being qualified – just another throw-away remark editors of local newspapers drop in to sound all ‘cheery’ and ‘inclusive’.

So consider this story about a neighbourhood not so far away, in a time not that long ago, in a quiet, tree-lined street.

I had lived in the neighbourhood in question for about four years. I hadn’t really got to know any of my neighbours; in fact I had only met one or two. This might surprise the typical Westsider, but when a four wheel drive cruises up the street, slows as it approaches either ‘this mansion’ or ‘that town-house’, and a barely discernible buzz indicates a roller door has been activated from the comfort of the leather-bound driver’s seat, it shouldn’t surprise anyone that the opportunities for interaction were limited. The wheels would disappear and the roller-doors swiftly retract, maintaining the required level of privacy for neighbours of a certain standing. The walls were high, the glass double-glazed, the conversations rare and brief.

Then one day I was expecting an important package. No, not another pile of scratched LPs or flared denims via ebay, this was the type of urgent delivery that contained critical client content that needed to be approved, duplicated and sent on its way to somewhere more important – an event that could be chronicled on one’s career timeline, for better or worse.

When the courier hadn’t arrived by midday, panic set in. I hit the phones, queried, questioned, and accused, before establishing that the delivery had in fact been made, but that the courier had mistaken the number “28” for “29”, and that therefore unacceptable as that might sound, my package should technically be nearby in safe hands. I had little trouble finding number 28, in fact it was directly opposite. I pressed the buzzer at the front gate, and after a moment, a bothered voice answered “Yes?”

“Oh hi, its your neighbour from across the street, I believe you have a package of mine?” The door buzzed, I crossed the paved yard, and was met by an unhappy stranger holding a parcel. He grunted, tossed it over, turned and returned to the seclusion of his large concrete dwelling.

Four years and I had never laid eyes on the face of a person who lived 20 metres away! It was the wake-up call I needed – time for a change.

We moved to the West about 10 years ago, and all of us made firm friends almost instantly. Now, if parcels go astray, they are hand-delivered with a smile, if we need someone to provide a lift, it only takes a minute or two, and if the call goes out for a coffee and chat, the replies are swift and numerous.

Don’t change, Westsiders.

Derek Green
Managing Editor, The Westsider



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