The new neighbours

When we moved into our modern, semi-detached house in the north of England in the late 1970s, the neighbouring property was of little interest to me. It was occupied by an elderly man who had been widowed a couple of years earlier. He occasionally chatted to my mum over the garden fence but I never really spoke to him.

Only a couple of years later, however, the man died himself – and the property stood empty for almost a year before our new neighbours moved in. This was a young family of husband and wife with a little girl who would be about five. As I was by this time 12 years old, we children obviously had little in common so we didn’t mix. However, I was rather taken with her mum. Mrs Pinner was a former teacher now on a break to start her family, I learned later. She was young and pretty, with long dark brown hair – quite unlike the ancient hags (as I perceived them) who suffered me in their lessons!

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