A while back, I recounted to you the saga of Silas, our neighbour, who died in the flat above us, and told you how we went to his funeral.
Once the flat had been cleared, refurbishment work started on it. It must have been in quite a state because they worked for a long time on it. They made a lot of noise, hammering and drilling. In fact, they hammered so hard that one day some plaster detached itself from the ceiling of our front room and I had to get them to come and repair the damage.
During that time, even after we had been to the funeral, I went on thinking of the flat above us as “Silas’s flat”. I sometimes wondered what he would think if he could come back and find workmen in there transforming it. Would he like the result or be angry that they had disturbed the home he defended so fiercely all these years? There is no way of knowing.
The other day, I went out to do some shopping and found a little crowd in front of the house. Some of the people were workmen, busy with various tasks, but some were “civilians”. I noticed, among others, an elderly white lady and a young black man with a baby strapped to his chest. Being the discreet type, I took this in and went on my way. It was only later that I wondered whether these people had been invited to take a look at the flat with a view to moving in.
The flat was obviously going to be occupied at some point and that’s fine with us but as it is right above our heads, it is a matter of no small importance who lives there. Then I forgot all about it as there were other things to think about.
On Friday, as I was going out to meet Tigger for the traditional omelette lunch, I noticed some pieces of wood and a large bag in the hall. Also, there was a man on the stairs.
“I’m in the flat upstairs,” said he.
“Oh, right,” I answered. “You’re working in the flat.” Well, he was dressed in dark blue just like the builders.
“No, I’m moving in. I’m going to live there.”
By now he had come down into the hall and we were face to face. So I shook hands with him and said I hoped he would be happy living here.
Naturally, I didn’t mention anything about the history of the flat. When you move into a new place, you don’t need to know that the previous occupant was found dead on the floor. It could be upsetting to some people.
We will now have to get out of the habit of calling it “Silas’s flat” and call it “Colin’s flat” instead. I was sincere in saying I hope he will be happy living there. After all, happy tenants make a happy house.
I thought we had said our last goodbyes to Silas at the graveside but in a strange way, meeting the new occupant seems like the final goodbye. Silas has finally gone except in our memories of him.