Since October we have swapped our Nissan Homy Caravan for an apartment. It is a cheap-as place, where dust and thin, plaster walls are the only things what separates you and your neighbours. This doesn’t count for noise because that goes right through it. Happy us. This is how we got to know our neighbours a bit better. On the left there lives a couple who loves Desperate Housewives and right door´s they are very religious and are helping our his sister who has a long history of money problems.
Often I feel like living in Die Pension Grillparzer, written by the fictional character T.S. Garp in John Irving’s The World According to Garp. The pension is inhabited by odd circus performances such as a pretty good dream teller and a beer, riding a unicycle. You hear them but don’t see them. You know they are there because during the day all the showers are taken – why?! – and after eight o’clock everyone starts cooking – why?! Nothing better than the smell of curry at 11 pm, right? At night you can hear voices but when you are looking for the right door to knock on to ask if they can shut up, they stop.
On the ground floor Bill is the manager. Whenever Bill disagrees with the daily life in the kitchen, second bathroom or washing room, he will do something about it. Once in a while, Bill likes to lock the bathrooms downstairs. Every time he hears too much noise, he assumes ´they are having a party´ and shuts down the toilets. He is also the one he turns of the gas and cleans the kitchen. If the washing machine or dryer doesn’t work, you can ask Bill to come and help you. He will show up with a hammer and makes sure it will take your coins.
The sad thing about Bill is that he looks like he has never had a fun day in his whole life. Lines in his face show that he is definitely older than sixty and his voice reminds me of Miley Cyrus. His white hair goes where gravity doesn’t and that hints that he has been Santa Claus in his previous life.
Bill kills his days by sitting outside on his Yellow Pages, sipping coffee from a beer glass and reading a copy of The Listener, a `good English book´, as he says. The latter is not really book, it is the sort of TV Guide which writes about a possible zombie apocalypse in Auckland, including an A-Z survival guide. His favourite show, he told me, is Dr. Oz who gives `great advice!` I had to try Miso Soup. “You know what Miso soup is? You can get it at Countdown, it is a soup with seaweed. It is very healthy, one of the healthiest food in the world Dr. Oz said.”
Bill’s weak spot it Tassie – Tasmania. Just like most Kiwi’s, he has lived in Australia for over six years. Now he is retired he wants to move back and settle down but first he wants to clean the aquarium because you can hardly see the fish any more. Bill has never been anywhere else than Australia and New Zealand, so Europe is exotic. My worn-out hoodie which says “PARIS, 69!” from the local Op-Shop was “a fancy t-shirt!” and my cookies are “yummie! Mum’s recipe?”
I like Bill, till a certain point. When you are in a hurry, it is not a good thing to run into Bill: whenever he starts talking, he will not stop talking. On the other hand, Bill keeps the fishes alive, saves you from wearing your swimsuit when you ran out of underwear when the washing machine gave up on you. I really do hope Dr. Oz is right about that Miso Soup and that it keeps Bill alive and healthy.