I've spent the past couple of weeks with Mrs. Dunce on our annual holiday to the U!!S!!A!!, following our new tradition of Thanksgiving with family and then a quiet Christmas at home. I figured I'd be writing about our annoyance at having a flight cancelled and baggage delayed. Or maybe the joys of shopping in the US with a very favorable exchange rate. Or perhaps going on and on about the great restaurants in the Pensacola area and that it's very good for my waistline that I live so far away from them. But no... instead I'll be talking about our triumphant return to London.
It seems that while we were away, someone apparently tried to break into the house next door. I'm not sure when it happened; at some point this weekend we noticed a pane of glass which was suspiciously broken around the window latch. We're especially sensitive to this sort of thing as our own place was burgled on a previous trip out of the country. So we called the police to report the possible break-in (after knocking on the door to make sure no one was home). After a couple of hours a couple of officers arrived (I'm not criticizing their response time, after all this was only a possible break-in which had occurred at an unknown time). They thought there wasn't much that could be done, perhaps slipping a note through the door in case the resident was out of town or something. But the answers we provided to their questions about our neighbor (an older man, not known to us and quite unsociable in general [a couple of early "hello" + waves from me were answered only with a scowl]), plus a few observations by Mrs. Dunce about the lack of noticeable activity for some time before our holiday, led them to break down the door instead (at which time we quickly closed the cat flap, not wanting our inquisitive cat to assist in the investigation). Not long after that, the officers returned to our door with the news that our neighbor was dead, and had been possibly for quite some time. That was all they told us, so we spent much of the rest of the evening twitching our curtains to see what else was going on. Not much, as it turned out: whatever sort of investigation is done on the scene, then lots of police-waiting until a private ambulance arrived. Now the door and window are boarded up, and we'll just have to wait and see what comes of it. There will probably be a small story in the local paper, we may be asked a few questions at some point.
But it's really quite a disturbing turn of events, especially considering that we were the first ones to notice that anything might be amiss. It seems like he must have had no friends, family members, social workers who might have gotten worried and checked in -- the police obviously hadn't been there before. And the only way we noticed anything was because of the apparent burglary (although I hate to imagine how we might have found out otherwise). Very sad to think about.