We have some rather strange neighbours. I have little doubt that they find us strange too, so that’s all right. The neighbour who lives above us feeds the pigeons and every morning Freya sits at the window making chattering noises as the pigeons fly up to the balcony for breakfast. The neighbour who lives below us grows plants around the basement railings. This is quite pleasant and there is a squirrel who comes visiting. You know when the squirrel is there because Freya’s tail starts flapping 19 to the dozen.
Yesterday morning* I saw her tail flapping and peeped over her shoulder expecting to see the squirrel but no squirrel was to be seen. Yet Freya was staring at something and thrashing her tail. I suddenly saw what it was and called Tigger over to look.
“In among the railing plants,” said I. “A lizard!”
“Oh yes,” marvelled Tigger, adding “I know the people next door used to keep geckos. Maybe this one has escaped.”
The presumed gecko had one eye fixed disapprovingly on our window. Freya watched for a while; then she got bored and went off to catch up on her sleep. Tigger went to work. Every so often, from my vantage point at the computer, I peered out at the alleged gecko who continued to fix us with his saurian gaze.
By lunchtime, I was becoming suspicious. I know lizards need the warmth of the sun for the energy to go off and do a day’s work and it was a cool grey day. Even so, such fixity of purposelessness seemed strange. Eventually, the truth could no longer be denied: the alleged gecko was no natural beast but a cunning artifact in plastic, lifelike enough to fool Freya momentarily and us monkeys for a bit longer.
Some people have gardens and others have plant festooned railings; some people install garden gnomes and others plastic geckos. It wouldn’t do if we were all the same.
*This post is an edited version of one published on Blogger on September 18th 2006.