CULTURAL commentators have been tutting and pursing their lips about a survey which is said to prove that nosy neighbours are turning into internet snoopers thanks to 21st century technology.
It’s all to do with the internet, of course, which is allowing confirmed curtain-twitchers to have a good nose around the homes of neighbours.
Those who make it their business to be dismayed about such things reckon that more than one in three of us has visited an estate agent or a property website purely to check out interior pictures of the house next door.
And just as many homeowners have used the same sources to check on how much the house next door might be worth.
To paraphrase an inelegant phrase which is used to demonstrate scornful incredulity, I cannot believe that Mr Holmes is currently constipated.
There’s more – one in ten people owned up to peeking through a neighbour’s window just to see what the inside of their house looked like.
Smaller, nosier, minorities said they would try to wangle an invitation into a neighbour’s house so that they could check it out, or confessed to treating themselves to a grand tour while minding the property when the owners are away.
But these figures, ladies and gentlemen, do not condemn us as a national of nosy parker neighbours spying on the people next door – the only thing that shocked me was that the figures were so low.
Only one in 10 say they sneak a peak through the windows? Come on, we’ve all done that – why else do people go out for a stroll at dusk, when the curtains are still open but the lights are on? My dear mother in law, though not as agile as she once was, will still clamber up to the top deck of a bus for a better vantage point, and it doesn’t have to be a neighbour’s house to intrigue her – she’ll have a look inside anyone’s castle given half a chance.
I’ll admit to indulging similar curiosity, though always slightly nervous that my gaze will be met by the occupants, sitting back on their sofa and clearly not that enamoured of gawkers in the road outside.
But that’s what blinds and nets are for, surely, and if you’re that concerned about your privacy you don’t have to allow the estate agent to publish pictures of your palatial abode?
To be honest, I found the whole survey depressing.
Perhaps I’m lucky, but I don’t need to check up online to find out what next door’s house looks like inside. I know, I’ve been in it, and all the other houses at least five doors up either way, and both sides of the road. In some cases I’ve helped carry the furniture in and in at least one instance I was volunteered to assemble a flatpack bed for a new arrival Mrs Dee had met that morning.
Even if you’re not involved in dog walking, plant watering or babysitting duties, at some time you must have taken in a parcel for the people next door?
If you have to resort to the internet to see what it looks like behind your neighbour’s front door, the sad truth is that they’re not really your neighbour, just someone who lives next door, and they might actually have decided to move away because you haven’t made any effort to get to know them.