Today has been one of the most embarrassing days of my life. I have to make a confession, and I am not sure that even now, a week later, that I am equal to making it, because the cringe-making aspects of it linger. But here goes....
We have been living next to some lovely neighbours. They rent their house, which actually belongs to one of the local churches. In times gone by, the vicar or pastor or reverend for the church has lived in the house, but their most recent vicar already has a house fairly locally. So the church has rented it out.
I have to say that the church makes a pretty unchristian and thoughtless neighbour. Where one would be able to ask a neighbour what their plans are, or talk to them about trimming the hedge or killing their vermin, a church is pretty difficult to talk to. At one point they let the house to a pair of drug dealers who roared around town late at night in their flash cars, and had noisy and terrible parties going on into the early hours and beyond.
These neighbours are American and have been understanding about the noise and mess of a three child house. In return, my daughter has regularly jumped over the fence to let them in their own front door, as they have regularly locked themselves out at the front.
We were out on Friday when the family made contact, told my husband they were going back to the States, and said that they had a few electrical things they couldn't take back to the states, would be like them. He said yes, and agreed to go round later than evening, but they weren't there. They came around later with a stereo which the children fell upon with delight.
They told us they would be leaving more stuff, some flower pots, a couple of rugs etc, at the front of the property and we should help ourselves. We said goodbye.
The following day I arrived home to find a rug I didn't recognise on the floor. They had indeed left a lot of stuff out at the front, about 20 black bin bags and some loose things...my husband had said that he would clear the black bags and he took the items they left.
My sister asked what was in the black bags. I told her I had no idea. My son told me that there was something interesting in one which looked like a rucksack. We decided to have a quick look before we took the things to the tip.
5 laptops, 30 ethernet cards, one leather rucksack, a blow up bed, a battery-powered inflator for said bed, a shoe box full of hotel toiletries, a clip-on spotlight, a table lamp, a door mat, a runner rug, a (new-looking) computer printer, a hold-all and a leather folder with notepad....
There was a lot more, but we didn't want to be intrusive and sort through personal items, at least, I tried not to do anything which I wouldn't like anyone else to do to me. I didn't look at the papers and correspondence, for example.
On Sunday my son went out to War Hammer, and I was typing on the computer. There was a knock at the door and I ran downstairs in my decorating clothes, no bra. I was expecting it to be my son.
The couple were standing on the doorstep. They had a card in their hand. They had come to say goodbye, and were clearly expecting an invitation to come in and have a cup of tea. But I couldn't! in my living room were 5 laptops...30 ethernet cards...etc
As I talked to them from behind the door, I became exquisitely aware that I was standing on a doormat (rescued from their bin bags) with a runner rug behind (rescued from their bin bags) my leather rucksack on the stairs (rescued from their bin bags) and a box of three soaps (rescued from their bin bags) sitting on the hall window ledge.
I nearly died with embarrassment as they told me how grateful they were that John had taken the bags to the tip and they handed me the card. I don't know what I said, I was too embarrassed to make sense. I think I have post traumatic stress disorder now. I keep getting flashbacks.
I muttered, said goodbye, good trip, and shut the door, and sank to my knees. AAARGH
To make matters worse, the card contained vouchers for Marks and Spencers and kind words. I may even be able to look at it without blushing by 2008.
My mother keeps saying...you never have to see them again...they did say that they wanteed you to feel free to help yourself to anything...you never have to see them again. It doesn't seem to be an effective treatment, I'm still getting the flashbacks.