I was drafting some text this afternoon about neighbourhood communication, for a project bid, when I was interrupted by a tap at the door. It was a neighbour, looking to return an outdoor ladder I had lent him a few days ago. It’s an ancient, heavy lump of a thing, possibly from the iron age, so we lugged it round together, which meant we had a couple of minutes to catch up briefly on domestic and personal news.
In terms of the quotidian practice of neighbourly borrowing and lending, it was obviously unremarkable; but it illustrates nicely how ‘exchange of favours’ is not a watertight category, because it lubricates the exchange of information and other benefits that contribute to the valuable accretion of allowable knowledge, and hence a shared expectation of support that could be mobilised in time of need.
(And yes, I am aware that mixing oil and water, as in the metaphor above, is questionable, but somehow I could not resist).