Two weeks ago, my neighbour Jack died. I'm sorry to say that I didn't know Jack that well. He was what we call a curmudgeon.
Permanently grumpy, always bickering with the neighbour above him who also happened to be one of his best friends, he always clapped our dog, but he made me cry the day we moved in.
My dad has bone cancer and two sticks to stop him falling over. My mum is so frail at times she can be blown over like a cigarette packet tossed about in the wind. When they drove over with our furniture, naturally they parked outside our new home in the disabled spot - they both have blue badges; they're entitled to park there. It's not a residential parking spot, although Jack treated it like it was.
He ranted and raved at my mum and dad, cursing his head off. I cried because I thought "Great, now I have the neighbour from hell, and I've just moved in."
Our last neighbour used to let their grand kids use the floor as a trampoline. Now this one was gonna be big trouble.
As things turned out, Jack was fine. After that day, we never had a cross word, although he had plenty of cross words with everyone else.
When he died it came as a bolt out the blue. He collapsed and was taken away in an ambulance and died the next day in hospital.
The next day, two of his relatives arrived. What they did next was disgraceful. And, I've seen some pretty low things in my life.
They rummaged through his things at the speed of light. Taking anything of value. They dumped everything else of his in the communal bins. Personal stuff. Private stuff. They dumped his glasses and his bunnet in the bin. Our neighbour, one of his Jack's friends, found them when she went to put out her rubbish. Despite inviting his 2 relatives into her home, giving them coffee and sympathy, they went back home to Birmingham. They didn't tell her when the funeral was. One of his few friends probably wouldn't be there, but two of his money grabbing leech relatives would be. That's if they even bothered to have a funeral at all.
I half expected to see poor, expired Jack in the bin.
Hey, I'm not laughing as I write this because I'm too bloody sad.
One minute you're there, going about your daily business, the next you're a gonner and people have their greedy, fat fingers rifling all through your stuff. They don't give a shit about you or your memories or what matters to you. All they care about is taking anything of value.
I hope wherever Jack is, he never got to see all this. The callous disregard for his possessions and his life.
As for his heartless relatives, what goes around comes around. In years to come, it could be you who's dead, having some callous someone's fat, grubby fingers rifling through your stuff, before tossing out the glasses and hat you last wore in the trash like you and your life meant nothing for your friends and neighbour to find.