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LETTER FROM CANADA

Neighbours

You don’t choose them, but you rarely want to change them.

I had very decent neighbours in Svätý Jur, but even there, people responded quizzically to acts of altruism.(Source: Sme archive)

Neighbours. You don’t choose them, any more than you choose your family. They just come with the country you live in and the property you buy. If you’re lucky, you find a few diamonds among the coal.

Hereabouts in Canada I hear a lot from a particular neighbour, because she has been fixing up her ramshackle house for over a year, hoping to cash in on a hot property market on Canada’s West coast. Except her house is basically a tiny bungalow with lots of shanty-type additions and rickety superstructures, giving an outward impression of bulk but an inner one of chaotic and avaricious speculation.

The crew she has engaged to enlarge her treasure works at night, as well they might – most are recovering addicts and ex-cons (she has a generous heart). One of them I know well – a certain Ernest, who has a long string of convictions (17, according to a local paper) for burglary and break-and-enter, up and down Vancouver Island. I met him last year when he stopped by our house for a chat with his crack pipe (!).

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