My name’s Angela. And I’m a curtain-twitcher
Well. A recovering one
You see. I come from a long line of curtain-twitchers (see last post). You could say it’s an hereditary weakness. I also grew up in a curtain-twitching hotspot (Hertfordshire). It was inevitable I’d fall into it.
We moved near to Mum’s house. ‘Three doors down’ near. To a village. Not dissimilar to the ficticious Dibley. In that – like Dibley – it’s a curtain-twitching nirvana.
You know Cheers? The bar where everybody knows your name?
It’s a bit like that. The village where everybody knows your bra size. Or they may as well do. They seem hell bent on knowing everything else.
Usually that wouldn’t faze me. In classic textbook twitcher style – I generally prefer to listen rather than talk. But I also don’t have a problem with sharing. It’s all par for the course in them parts.
However this time it was a whole different ball game.
Because Mum had chosen to keep her diagnosis a secret.
She was adamant. None of the neighbours could know. And in that village all it took was one tiny match. And. Boom.
Nothing could slip out to anyone. Not the butcher. Not the baker. Nor the other fella.
Mum had draped a cloak of secrecy around us. That was fine. It was her decision. To do things the way she wanted.
But moving to that place was like being fresh meat offered up to the lions. The neighbours couldn’t believe their luck. New blood.
‘A couple in their 30s?’
‘3 doors down for her mother?’
‘And what did you just say? They’re RENTING?’
It was all too much for them. They had to know more.
For a ‘young’ couple to move to that village and only be renting. That was novelty enough. To then find out we’d left a riverside London apartment. And were letting it out. Well. This was all highly irregular. It definitely required further probing.
So. Against my will. I was forced to become a compulsive liar. To the rental agents. The landlords. The neighbours.
Yes. We were tired of living in London. That’s right. We wanted to live the simple life. In the country. Absolutely. Settle down in the motherland. But no. We didn’t want to rush it. This was a reconnaissance mission. A chance to find a house we liked. Erm. Yes. We did still plan on working on the other side of London. And. Yes. This would make our commutes 3 times as long and difficult. But. We just so wanted to live there.
The truth. Of course. Was that we were there for one reason. And one reason only. That less than a month before, my mum had been told she would probably die within the next 12 – 18 months. As far as I was concerned the pause button on life had been well and truly pressed. I had to be with her. As close as possible. As much as possible. That was all that mattered.
But I couldn’t tell anyone any of this.
It was like leading a double life. I spent months creating story on top of story for the neighbours. Was questioned repeatedly. Some parts didn’t make sense. Which created more questions. Which in turn created more fabrications. I’m surprised they didn’t send in Jeremy Paxman.
Information on houses in the area that were for sale were brought over to us. We ‘oohed’ and ‘aahed’ at them. As expected.
Have you seen the TV series The Americans? About a pair of KGB spies living undercover as an all-American married couple? I felt like them. Any innocent encounter over the recycling bins, I’d break out in a sweat. Dreading an interrogation from Phil at number 7.
It was exhausting. Forever dodging neighbours for fear of crumbling under the pressure. Blowing our cover. It was stressful enough dealing with reality. Let alone the damn fantasy.
It also meant I couldn’t make friends with anyone there. There were a few that – in normal circumstances – I would have been. They tried. But I couldn’t see it through. I would have had to omit the most important part of my life. How can you base any kind of friendship on that level of dishonesty? It wasn’t right.
So I avoided them. At all costs. Pretended not to see them in the newsagent. Made fake mobile calls every time I left or entered the house for fear of bumping into them in the drive: ‘Sorry, can’t chat, on the phone!’ I even pretended to be asleep for a whole 30 minutes on the train to work once when I realised I’d accidentally sat in the same carriage as one of them.
Isolating. That was the word. It was a time when I probably felt at my most alone. I had to stay strong for mum. That was number one. But it was also becoming increasingly apparent my relationship was showing signs of deterioration. Everything that came out my mouth irritated him. So we didn’t talk. Thankfully I had my best friends in London. Who managed to keep me just on the right side of sane. But at home I had no-one to talk to. To offload on. I could have done with a friend or two. Closer to home.
Then a weird thing happened. The story began to stick. Not just with the neighbours. But with us. First it was mum. She started cutting out ads of country houses in the paper to show us. Sending us links to estate agents. And as for me and my boyfriend. We started looking at them. The week before he moved out he’d even shown me a house he’d found for us. In St Albans. He talked about kids. We researched schools in the area.
We all started to believe the story. With a terminally ill mum & an almost 10 year relationship falling apart. The fantasy was comforting. It felt normal.
After he moved out, the lies continued. By this time the fantasy had become so elaborate that the truth of our failed relationship would have been too much of a fall from grace. I came up with yet another web of far-fetched excuses. Why his car was never there. Why they never saw him. God knows if anyone believed it. But they didn’t challenge it. You wouldn’t, would you?
One thing to add. When I was writing this post. And I got to the bit about being a compulsive liar. I thought maybe that sounded a bit melodramatic. A touch too ‘psychopath’. So I looked up the definition online. This is what part of it said:
“Not only do compulsive liars bend the truth about issues large and small, they take comfort in it. Lying feels right to a compulsive liar. Telling the truth, on the other hand, is difficult and uncomfortable”
Hits the nail on the head really. In my own way I guess I did become a compulsive liar.
So. No. I try not curtain-twitch anymore. I’ve realised what it can be like on the other side. I’ve had the biggest karmic payback in the history of curtain-twitching.
Oh. And you’ll be pleased to know I’m no longer a compulsive liar
… or am I?Follow @funny_matters
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