Yesterday to a really buzzy conference on community development organised by Age Concern Oxfordshire, where I had the privilege of speaking alongside CDX's Amanda Greenwood. I talked about neighbouring and older people, and different understandings of 'enfolding community'.
One of the issues I've been pondering but didn't have time to cover is people's varied relative 'busyness', simply having or not having time to interact informally in the neighbourhood. It's an issue that scalds my conscience from time to time when I'm rushing to the station and can only burble a greeting to a neighbour because I've not been sufficiently organised to leave home a little earlier.
But I got plenty of insights yesterday into how older people can experience the contrast between (for many) their own sense of becalmed marginalisation and the relentless purposefulness of others' mobility, and how this affects their occupation of neighbourhood.
With this in mind, I sat on the train on the way home flicking through a marvellous report into a participative research project called Get the picture: older people's day to day lives in rural west Oxfordshire 2004-2007, written by Margaret Godel of Oxford Brookes University. And I came across this quote from one of the participants:
'One issue that stood out for me is how many hours in the day there are to fill if you are alone. One remark that came up a few times was how much time people spend looking out of the window. It's good to be able to do this but sad too that this is all there is.'
Another nuance to be taken into account in the consideration of 'curtain-twitching' or 'eyes on the street'.