“Look forward not back.”

With my penchant for holding onto grudges, an existential advocacy oft aimed at me by well-meaning acquaintances. Advice I took a little too literally yesterday when I didn’t look back reversing the car out of the drive. Consequently, causing me to almost mow down a mate’s cat, along with neighbourhood gossip Erica (fictional name).

Unbeknown to me, as I reversed out off my drive Erica was standing behind my car checking my tyre tread…… Something she’d have got to see at an even closer hand if she hadn’t shifted at the last second.

This elderly lady means well, making it her duty to inform cul-de-sac dwellers of tyre law breaches. Not stopping there, she’s also a stickler for monitoring the exhaust emissions of neighbourhood vehicles. This undertaken through the highly unscientific gauge of subjective conclusions; unreliable measurements taken visually.

If Erica sees white/grey smoke billowing from a car’s exhaust pipe (as if a new Pope had been elected) she staples an advisory warning note onto the owners forehead. As they couldn’t read the note, requiring painful removal from their brow, this an ill thought out strategy by the ‘inquisitive’ lady.

My car’s MOT test is due in a month or so. As Erica hasn’t yet felt the need to staple advisory notes to my forehead, it’s looking like I, at least, shouldn’t fail the emissions or tyre tread element of the test.

Some may accuse my neighbour of foolishness, risking her own safety undertaking checks that aren’t within her remit. Others, though, such as the staple marketing board may beg to differ; claiming every neighbourhood needs an Erica to weed out those who endanger others with shoddy vehicle maintenance.

Nosey neighbours – You can’t live with them, you can’t do anything secretive without them finding out.

“Hey, your tyres are illegal!!…. And stop doing that or I’ll call the police!!”


Although she probably had a different nom d’plume in the narrative, I’ve joked in previous prose about the lengths Erica goes to acquire the tales she cascades among this pleasant corner of east Leeds.

In those fictional digs, I wrote of her habit of concealing herself in the fridges of the Colton masses. A strategy designed to clandestinely eavesdrop, along with check local adherence to ‘use by’ dates of food perishables. Those flights of whimsy also stooping as low as mooting a ridiculous notion she previously failed a job with MI6 for being over qualified.

To be fair, although accusations of fondness for acquiring gossip isn’t without foundation, I’m unaware of her undertaking the stereotypical northern woman’s trait of gossiping over her garden fence…… She doesn’t have to, she rings her scandal seeking audience.

To clarify, my thoughts on gossips are delivered with tongue very firmly tucked in cheek. I’ve absolutely no right to judge anyone or anything. For one thing, I’m guilty of telling loads of folk about old Harry Nurofen at number 189 and the horse chestnut tree incident.

Not to mention having a part in spreading gossip about Wincey Garble’s liaison with Joe Garble. Bearing in mind they’re married and the event took place behind closed doors, an absolutely rubbish piece of tittle tattle delivered by yours truly.

In fact, with me acquired the details when hiding in Wincey and Joe’s airing cupboard, I come out of this tale in a far worse light than the Garbles.

“Is there a point or message from these literary meanderings, Gary?” I hear you cry.

Not really, other than regularly check your tyre tread, vehicle emissions, along with if you’re reversing your car you’re absolutely allowed to look back!