I'm so out of practice of being polite and friendly to people in an affable, British way. In Japan I quickly learned not to attempt casual conversation, but rather to smile and bow and say 'Yoroshiku Onegaishimasu' an awful lot (it means something almost like 'I'm glad that we get along, and will continue getting along, with good will on both sides, thank you very muchie'). In three years, I never met a single one of my neighbours in Tochigi-shi, except the one who called the police and got me kicked out of my first apartment for having five people round until 10pm on a Friday night. In Peru I, with difficulty, unlearned the habit of bowing. And unfortunately, the habit of smiling, for the most part. You don't want to go about looking like an open-hearted, gormless tourist and get mugged and nagged by beggars... instead, I took to stomping around Chiclayo around scowling, enraged by men's street piropos ('compliments'), wearing dark glasses and ignoring everyone. So sharing a tut with a fellow delayed passenger on the tube, making small talk with the bloke in the offy, or simply saying hello to the builders downstairs is proving a bit of a challenge for me. The neighbours in our new flat? I'm absolutely terrified of meeting them, and having to simper and introduce myself and tell them I live in No.7. In fact, last night Tito and I got in a row over who would go downstairs and into the garden and pick up the plant which blew off our window ledge during the storm yesterday afternoon. I lost, as it was mine, and thus found myself scurrying past the surprised resident of No.3 (who had just popped into the garden for a fag) muttering something about basil. I'm going to have to sort this out soon, if I ever want to have a BBQ!