I'm sat enjoying the sun in the front garden when suddenly my eyes are drawn to a tall, middle-aged man walking down the street. He's staring right at me.
"Alright," I mutter with a nod, hoping to placate any aggressive intent.
But it's okay - his motive seems purely neighbourly.
"Hello," replies the stranger, not breaking his step. After a minute or two he's out of sight.
Ten minutes later
This time I'm taken unawares.
"Hello again, friend."
He's carrying a Somerfield bag.
"Hey," I reply, anticipating an immediate return to my book.
No such luck.
"This is the life, eh? Sun, a good page turner - all you need now is a glass of wine."
Inform him it's a bit early for me and with that he's gone. And forgotten. Until…
I've been out there 10 minutes when I spot him striding down the road.
"You haven't moved for two weeks, have you?"
He seems pleased with this witticism, so I feign a laugh to be polite.
"What you reading?" he enquires.
Tell him I've just started The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro but his expression indicates he's never heard of it.
"I'm on The Time Traveller's Wife," he says. "My friend thrust it into my hand at a fair and said, 'You'll LOVE this.' And I am loving it, so…"
An uncomfortable silence ensues. Three, four, maybe even five seconds until he continues:
"So, are you new here?"
"Moved in about six months ago."
The stranger points to the sea-view houses and says: "I live over there - have done 20-odd years now."
"That's where everyone on this street wants to live," I reply, but my banter is ignored.
"What's your name?"
"Nice to meet you, Fishy. I'm Brian."
And after an awkward goodbye he's away once more.
Five minutes ago
Me and my mate Elizabeth walk in from the pub to find an envelope marked 'Fishy' on the floor.
Rip it open excitedly and begin reading…
Thought you might like to text/phone me?
If so, my number is:
Be good to hear from you.
Elizabeth is bent over laughing. She reckons I've gone bright red.
"Shut up," I tell her.
"When you going to text him?"
"You do look gay."
Think I'm going to give the front garden a miss for a while.