Wednesday, 21 September 2005

A sad story

A sad story the other morning that "a Wellington man lay dead in his armchair for 10 months before he was discovered... Neighbourhood Support and Grey Power say the case is a sad indictment on society..." etc., etc. Monday's Herald has the story offline.

It is a sad story, and there's no doubt a city can be a lonely place, but it's not an indictment on society, it's just sad. The man, 62 year-old Timothy Miles, chose to live alone and he shunned company. One neighbour, a "Mrs Palmer said more people needed to get involved in neighbourhood support programmes because it was not about being a nosy neighbour but about looking out for each other." A difficult balance when a neighbour just wants to keep himself to himself.

It brings to mind two songs: one written by Scottish-Australian musician Eric Bogle (the chap who wrote 'And the Band Played Waltzing Matilda') about a similarly sad case in Sydney some years ago, which he called 'A Reason For It All.' The other is a song by Tom Waits satirising the nosy neighbours Mr Miles may well have been wanting to avoid, 'What's He Building?' (Lyrics here, snippet here on the Amazon site.)
What's he building in there?
What the hell is he building in there?
He has subscriptions to those magazines...
He never
waves when he goes by
He's hiding something from
The rest of us... He's all to himself...
I think I know
What's he building in there?
What's he building in there?

We have a right to know...
No, you don't.

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