Neighbours like Fred are hard to find

I’M going to have to borrow Fred’s lawnmower.

I never mended mine because I thought the grass-growing season was over, but I was wrong. Once more before winter should do it.

That’s not a problem. Fred’s good about lending me his lawnmower. I’m very lucky. Neighbours like Fred are hard to find. I was musing on this when I walked next door to ask him.

Mind you, it’s not a one-way street, this lending business. He borrows stuff of mine occasionally. Electric drill, Whipper Snipper. It’s a good arrangement. And it’s not as if I borrow his lawnmower very often.

I mean, mine is usually working. And I always give his a good clean before I give it back, which is more than I can say for him. (I thought all this as I shoved my gate open, on my way round to his place).

The last time I got my Whipper Snipper back it looked like he’d used it to clean out the septic tank.

I suppose I was feeling a bit guilty because, having cleaned it last time, I forgot to take it back and he had to come and ask, which was a bit embarrassing. But give me a break, it doesn’t happen every time. In fact that was the first time. And he could’ve yelled over the fence, or telephoned.

But no, he had to make a point. He can be like that. Fastidious sort of bloke. Probably carries a purse, I thought, as I kicked his gate open.

I mean, do you have any idea how often he borrows stuff from me? And if he’s making one of his bloody dolls houses he has the drills for weeks! And he’s using it at all hours of the night.

At least when I mow the lawn it takes a couple of hours and I do it during the day.

The trouble is some people just don’t have a sharing personality. They shut themselves behind their doors and hoard everything around them, like they were sitting on a pile of gold.

And it’s not even a very good lawnmower. The last time I borrowed the damned thing I had to spend the best part of a morning trying to make it work. I wouldn’t be surprised if the lazy bastard waits for me to borrow it so he can get it serviced.

He never bothers with it himself. That’s what it looked like as I walked across his grass. Halfway up to my knee, it came. I aimed a kick at his cat.

He would keep a cat. Typical. No thought for the native wildlife. No thought for my veggies. If I catch it peeing on my lettuces one more time I’ll run the damned lawnmower over it. His lawnmower. Poetic justice.

Except that the bloody lawnmower would pack up at the vital moment. I’ve been there before, too.

I hammered on his door. What’s the point in ringing the bell – it’s probably no better than the bloody lawnmower. I could hear him coming up the hall.

He threw open the door with this wide beam on his face; this great silly grin he uses when he’s trying to be matey.

“G’day Col,” he said. “Good to see you. Fancy a beer?”

“You can stick your beer where the sun don’t shine!” I yelled. “And you can shove your effing lawnmower after it!”