Down Below

I used to live on the 8th floor of a Spanish apartment block, overlooking the main avenue in the town. I would quite often take a quick glance down to the street below and find myself still there 10 minutes later, gawping thoughtlessly at all the people and vehicles below as they went about their daily business, unaware that they were being watched.

And people watching from above works very well as it is extremely unlikely that anyone will look up and see you, so you can stare away without having to avert your gaze in a way that would probably earn you a smack in the face if conducted at street level.

The disadvantage of having such a view is that, much like everyone turning to look at what is causing the siren noise even though it is almost always just yet another police car or ambulance,  you hear things that cause you to rush to the window on the basis that it could be something worth seeing.

Car horns generally are a bit of a dilemma as human nature dictates that when you hear a loud ‘parp!’, you are intrigued to see what might be going on, so more often than not I expectantly rushed to the window only to be rewarded by the sight of a driver who has spotted someone they know on the pavement, or the gas bottle lorry arriving at the petrol station opposite and announcing his arrival with a series of unnecessarily lengthy toots. Neither event sets the heart racing with excitement.

 I heard a short toot and a bang once, but the bangs are usually someone closing a communal bin lid right underneath so I usually ignored them. It was only when some shouting was heard a bit later that I glanced down and saw a long queue of cars stuck behind an Audi sporting a smashed-in bonnet and a detached bumper. In front of it, the owner of a little work van with a crumpled backside (the car, not the owner) was gesturing unhappily at the Audi owner, who was shrugging his shoulders as though it was nothing to do with him. The entertainment then came in watching all the cars behind trying to reverse back up the road and re-route via the side lane. Further hilarity ensued when the crumpled van owner (punch line not required this time) and the Audi owner decided to push their cars across a pedestrian crossing onto the side road, thereby blocking the last few re-routed cars who had just spent ages reversing up the main road, requiring them to then re-reverse back onto the main road again. I’ll bet they weren’t laughing as much as I was.

So sea views and mountain views are old hat, what you want is a street view! However, should anyone selling an upper floor apartment over a busy road attempt to use that line in the hope that it will clinch a sale, please keep your expectations low.  

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