We live in the corner of a green, which is surrounded by houses filled with many families we have never met. That all changed today after a number of the local residents organised a street party - or "party on the green" in this case.
While cutting the hedge at the front of our house this morning I saw bunting being tied between the trees around the green, and waved to one of the few neighbours I do know, who seemed to be very busy orchestrating things.
I think we were all a little worried about the weather - the forecast last night was for torrential rain, thunder, lightning, brimstone, and plagues of frogs. By morning the forecast had changed, predicting an end to the world by early evening, and then when the time came, we appeared to have been let off - dark clouds rolled over like a Vogon Constructor Fleet, but never really let rip.
After heading out a little after mid-day and setting out our picnic rug up-wind of the barbecues, I grinned at the "who can piss the heighest" gazobo competition that seemed to be going on. This town never changes. Then somebody magicked a public address system from somewhere, and started playing a commercial radio station on it - with the volume turned up to 11.
Now I'm no lawyer, but given that there's a fair number of old people living nearby who would rather have the green built on than anybody have any fun, I wondered how long it would take until somebody called it in, and the police arrived to shut down the music. Thankfully that didn't happen.
It was great to finally meet so many of the families that live nearby. It was also a bit disappointing to realise that only perhaps a quarter of the residents turned out. I'll admit to being a little apprehensive myself - I'm not the most outgoing person - but got over myself and headed out with the kids. Even Miss 16 came out - I was so pleased for her - mixing with strangers is a massive thing for her, and shows just how far she has come in the last few months.
The afternoon and evening flew by. I drank more pear cider than was probably sensible, took part in a ridiculous never-ending game of Rounders between parents and children (Rounders is like a simple, mini version of baseball), and spent a good few hours putting the world to rights, and listening to hilarious stories from some of the characters that live nearby. By all accounts the last few people were still on the green long after the sun had set.
I will admit to absolving myself from one conversation that started to escalate rather rapidly. The subject of religion somehow came up, and I mentioned that our house was "interesting", on account of my other half being a regular church goer, and me decidedly not being a regular church goer - or believing in any of it really. The girl sitting next to me then piped up "Well I'm gay, so you can imagine the rest" - followed by the local builder who proudly proclaimed after numerous bottles of beer "I'M A MASSIVE ATHIEST". Everybody got very quiet all of a sudden - perhaps because most of them go to Church.
You know those moments when you would rather hide behind a nearby tree? It was one of those moments. Thankfully the conversation changed course to ridiculous memories of pet dogs drinking seawater and ejecting the contents of their stomach in public places. Disgusting, but endlessly entertaining. My face hurt from laughing so much.
I guess in many ways today proved that community still means something - that if we all drop our guard, and take the time to find a little out about each other, the world becomes a better place. I will now know lots of faces to wave or nod to when leaving for work or returning home. I won't remember their names, but I will at least know their faces.