i don't think he has that much money – he probably wouldn't be living in my street if he had, and i imagine he'd own a much flashier car. also i doubt he'd be cleaning the small car that he does own himself.
he's cleaning his small car, a little renault with four wheels and four doors and what i believe is called a 'hatchback' together with his son. his son is about twelve, maybe thirteen. dad's wearing a white vest and the son a blue t-shirt. they're both wearing blue disposable gloves.
never have i seen two people clean their car with more care. never have i seen two people clean a car in such quiet, concentrated harmony.
while dad is scrubbing under the bonnet, the son has disappeared inside on the floor somewhere in front of the passenger seat. when dad gives the body above the wheels a good rub, the son examines close up and in detail a square inch of roof.
there are different types of cloth for different parts of the car and different kinds of liquid that need squirting – with unwavering attention – to different spots to get rid of different manifestations of dirt or grub in all different ways.
from where i'm standing, washing up a couple of cups at my kitchen window three floors above, the car looks perfectly clean. not to my neighbour and to his son.
when i return to the window an hour and forty-five minutes later to deal with what's left in the sink, my neighbour and his son have only just really got going. like performers in a conceptual dance piece that has been slowed down for extra effect, they move around the car, complementing each other without ever getting in each other's way. as dad polishes the rear view mirror, son finds the inside nook of the door needing love.
i take my time washing up, mesmerised by the unhurried devotion on display down below and as they progress into their third hour together, the grown up brother appears and appraises their work with some admiration. he picks up a bottle containing some fluid and nods his head in approval.
a few minutes later, the brother walks past again, together with an elderly woman who i imagine must be nan: it looks like she's going to catch a bus or a train.
by the time i'm about to sit down to breakfast with the one o'clock news, dad and son are sitting together in their newly-buffed car, testing the sparkling sun roof. the sun isn't shining, but theirs is a joy to behold.
their happiness makes me happy. rich is my neighbour and richer for knowing him thus rich am i...