It’s gradually dawning on me that my next-door neighbour is a little bit eccentric. This first occurred to me when I noticed Fred heading out with a walking cane shaped like a flamingo. Then I saw that him entertaining some friends with cocktails around a blow-up pool filled with floating candles. And just this afternoon, I saw him standing across the road, gazing at his roof through a pair of binoculars while holding up a set square.

Turns out there was a reasonable explanation for that last one. When I asked him what he was up to, he explained that he was checking that his television antenna was still upright. Apparently, his late-night foreign films haven’t been coming through in the high definition they deserve, and the electronic program guide had been malfunctioning.

I don’t watch much free-to-air tv these days, so I couldn’t comment on service interruptions. But I could see at a glance that Fred’s rooftop aerial is bent at an angle that doesn’t look at all conducive to enjoying Korean horror movies in high definition. He thanked me for letting me know – apparently his eyesight isn’t what it used to be – and announced that he’d have to get up on the roof and sort it out.

I told him that he should probably not do that, and instead contact a professional TV antenna service. Melbourne has got to have people who do all that tuning and fault finding and unbending of aerials stuff, right? Fred acknowledge that this seemed like a good idea, in light of his bung knee, and asked if I could be a lad and conjure up a phone number for him.

Somewhat unsurprisingly, Fred is resolutely unacquainted with the internet. He told me he understands that it’s a great thing; he just doesn’t have room for these new-fangled devices in his lifestyle – he can’t see the screens anyway, he says. I have to say, he seems to be getting along just fine without, provided he stays away from DIY rooftop antenna repairs.