Friday, 18 May 2012

On the fear of interfering Sunday morning, here’s a tap at the door and one of my neighbours says ‘I hope you don’t think I’m being terribly nosy, but, is everything OK?’ The previous evening we’d had a couple of ambulances outside because the baby we’re caring for at the moment needed specialist attention urgently. I don’t have any problem with neighbours noticing that sort of thing. I’d hate to live in the sort of place where it went unnoticed, and I’m perfectly capable of politely giving no more information than is appropriate when talking about children looked after. Comparable situations probably arise in our neighbourhoods all the time, and I can well imagine people tentatively discussing with members of their family, or maybe on the phone to a friend, should they pop round and check if everything’s ok, or not? Deciding no, then yes, then hesitantly setting out, perhaps half-hoping that their knock will not be answered… Something a bit like that happened to me a few years ago. But I’ve known this woman for about 25 years and get on well with the whole family. We exchange at least a cheery wave in passing several times a week. A few weeks ago I borrowed a tool from her husband and had a long chat about this and that. So why would she think that I might think that she was being 'terribly nosy'? Because in our culture it seems like an interfering thing to ask, even in those circumstances. I knew she was genuinely concerned about the baby. It shows how deeply embedded is this cultural privacy thing, this fear of interfering.

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