I'm an American living in the Methleys. The thing I love most about living here is that it seems like I know everyone in the neighbourhood - very different from my old San Francisco neighbourhood, where after twenty years I knew the people of either side of me and he local dry cleaner. The Methleys is the kind of neighbourhood where neighours bring cuttings from their garden around (I so obviously lack the British gift for gardening), notice when you've been gone for a few days and welcome you home when you come back, drop by for tea, and where kids come round to wash the car for pocket money.
But my favourite thing of all in the Methleys is the Screen on the Wall outdoor film showings in August. As a token American, (and probably as the person whose kitchen backs on to the street where the film is shown) it's my job to make the hamburgers and hotdogs. I love doing it, and I love it that everyone brings chairs and settees into the street, the streetlights go out, and we have a big ol' neighbourhood party watching the movie and sharing BBQ. For me it's the highlight of the year, and an event that always makes me appreciate the vitality and community that's present in the neighbourhood.
When I talk with people who live outside the Methley's, I'm actually proud to say I live here. In what other area would local people turn out to pick up litter and to transform a neglected area at the side of the pavement into an attractive shrubbery? How many communities have had national media attention for their summer activities? Where else could you go to watch a Aussi film about ballroom dancers outdoors with 250 neighbours (some of whom were dressed for the part)? Where else could you go to be find plans being made to improve the whole environment of the area, with the real prospect of reduced danger of cars? For me however, one of the first things I think about, when I think of living in this community, is of Linford Christie winning the gold medal at the Barcelona Olympics in 1999. Imagine the scene... there's an impromptu bar-b-que out in the street in Methley Terrace. It's not been organised as part of one of the 'On the Streets" events - someone just invited all the neighbours round ....It's a sunny evening... The shout goes up from all the open doors that Britain has won a gold medal and everyone at the bar-b-que disappears to watch the re-play! They return and the BBQ goes on in the street till it gets dark and the neighbours comment what a great time they had. When I recount the story to almost anyone outside the area, the unusual aspect of it all, besides Britain doing anything successful in sport and winning a gold medal, is the fact that neighbours spent time together. Living in the Methley's is about being in the place where, when someone tried to break into a neighbour's house, which unfortunately happens, there were people on numerous doorsteps within moments and the break-in attempt was unsuccessful. It's a place where, at least from my experience, people look out for their neighbours and for the area. This may seem like everthing's rosy in the Methleys the fact is we are all individuals. We may not always agree with each other, and I'm sure there will be things in the future that we do not see eye to eye over, but I'm still glad to be here. When we moved in to Methley Terrace in 1991, here were only a handful of cars parked out in the road. It's now difficult at times to find a place to park. Things have changed even in that short time, and in my opinion it has changed for the better. I'm looking forward to even more change, and I am looking forward to experiencing that change.
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