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  • We have been in our new flat for about a year now. It's alright. That's the correct, middle-of-the-road way to describe it. The neighbours could be better.

    In fact the only neighbour that we really liked moved out a few months ago. He was on the ground floor and the drug addict/dealers' son on the floor above was making his life a misery.

    When he left we inherited Ray, his retired middle aged friend who lives in the block adjacent to ours. My partner keeps tropical fish and when Ray found out they instantly struck up a connection with their thing in common.

    I like Ray, he is a sharp, lively and welcoming individual. After our first, initial meeting we happened to bump into him and a female companion and went for a couple of enjoyable drinks. All good fun.

    In the house where we lived, previous to here, we had a very angry woman for one of our neighbours. Small, squat with a constant face of thunder, so it was of jaw-dropping surprise to us when we found out that her and Ray used to be married! We also thought that he might be gay, not to say that an ex-married can't be.

    My partner has been out of work since we moved into the new place and it soon became apparent that this was congenial for retired Ray. Based on my partner's descriptions the visits, texts and phone calls whilst I was at work seemed excessive. However, J. just thought that he was lonely.

    As well as a full time job I work shifts in a pub so days off for me are scarce. Yet, any weekday I happened to be in the house Ray would call round. You can tell it is him from the way he rings the buzzer. Longer, louder, shriller - it seems. He never expects to see me and J. has often wondered why he never stays that long if I am there.

    As I was leaving for work yesterday morning I bumped into him, returning from a walk with his dog. Pleasantries exchanged he then asked me, "How's the little soldier?"
    I knew who he meant: the man still asleep as he is every morning as I fumble around the flat, in the dark, to get my arse ready for work. But I asked him to clarify, just to make sure. He affirmed.

    "He's not a soldier", I said walking away, checking my watch to ensure I wasn't running late for my 09.30 train.

    2 jobs. Buy, plan and cook meals. Clean. Keep house in order. Change bedding. Tidy.
    And so on and so on and so on.

    And he's the soldier.

    That really got my back up.
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