Love your neighbour

The dynamic can change completely in a community when someone passes away and new people move in, even in the relatively conservative small village in which I live on the outskirts of Oxford, where houses are regularly selling for more than a million pounds.  

In this age of multi occupancy, it is very common in Oxford to have four or more cars in one household.  They have to go somewhere, when they are not being driven and they mostly go on the road outside the houses where their drivers live, for their convenience,  even when a property has a driveway.  

Last week, I collected a customer from the John Radcliffe Hospital in Headington and headed off down Divinity Road and through the back streets of east Oxford, on the journey to Abingdon.  Years of experience and scientific measurement show this to be the shortest route, which we are supposed to take, given that the fare is calculated on a tariff based on distance.  

"You're very brave driving down here," my passenger said. I don't consider it especially brave, just one more thing I have to cope with in my daily work on the roads of Oxfordshire.  He found it amusing, when I told him of the time I had to get out of the taxi on Divinity Road, to resolve a standoff between two other drivers, who were refusing to give way to nor even talk with each other. 

It is less of an issue in Abingdon, from where I had returned that same day to find a neighbour had left his parking lights on – sidelights, on the near side of his car.  It is easily enough done, especially on some vehicles, where for some unfathomable design choice, they are operated by putting the same lever down which operates indicators.   People switch them on when it is light and forget about them. 

Off I went to knock on the door of the multi occupancy house, to inform my neighbour. He looked not at me, but over at his car - which he couldn't see because of an overgrown hedge outside the house – and instead of thanking me questioned me "Have I?" he asked incredulously, with furrowed brow, as if he could not believe what I had told him.   

My actions that dark winter night would have saved him and those who are dependent on him at work a great deal of inconvenience in the morning, by which time his car battery would have been flat. But he simply retrieved his car keys and went over to deal with the problem and didn't at any stage thank me for it, nor attempt any further communication. 

In church at the weekend, we are taught that the two greatest commandments are to love God with all our heart, mind and soul and to love our neighbour as ourselves. It is hard to do when other people don't respond in kind.