Wednesday, 8 October 2008

Good fences make good neighbours. Hedges don't apparently

I am angry. I am so very, very, jolly angry that it has actually given me a blinding headache. I am so angry that if someone spoke to me right now, I'd burst into angry tears and thump their chest. Here's why:

We live in a tiny little village. The type with twitchy curtains being twitched by many elderly neighbours. The average age of our village population is 80. Since moving her two years ago, I have gone out of my way to be nice to our neighbours. I pick walnuts, dry them, package them and give them to them as gifts (hence stained black fingers of previous blog post). I take them my home made chutneys. I rang them the day the floods came to make sure they were alright. I take them slices of cake when I make too much. I remember to wish them happy birthday and I ask after their health if I know they're not feeling well.

Until recently, I've wallowed in a lovely, warm sense of community. We've been invited to our neighbours annual Christmas party (we're the youngest people there by 40 years) and in general all has been well.

However, earlier this year (around May or June) two of our neighbours stopped by and asked if they could see us on a particular Friday evening. To be honest, that particular evening wasn't very convenient as my husband had had a vasectomy that morning and wasn't really going to be up for polite chit chat. However, I was bullied into the meeting.

At the allotted time, they arrived for their 'deputation' as they called it and enquired as to why my husband was cradling his nether regions. It wasn't until we had to spell out what had happened to the inside of his penis that they finally dropped that line of enquirey.

It turns out that they had issues with our hedge. Apparently the company that delivers their oil was finding it difficult to get up the path and could we do something about it. We said that we could try to cut it back (it really doesn't overhang the path). They pooh poohed that idea saying that if we cut the hedge it will die and look brown and unsightly and they didn't want to have to look at a brown and unsightly hedge either. We were flummoxed. We suggested they might want to use our oil company as they have smaller delivery vans (and they're cheaper). They seemed quite happy with that idea and trotted off.

I should have known that that wasn't the end of it. The last time I took cake round to them, I definitely got the cold shoulder but I thought they just didn't fancy courgette cake.

Anyway, I get back from fetching the boys today (both of whom were tired and grumpy) and the neighbour is taking photos of our hedge. I asked him politely what he was doing (while trying to stop the whinging boys who want something to eat). He then informed me that he had hoped we'd do something about our hedge, but that it was now 33cms wider than it should be and something had to be done. He informed me that 4 years ago they'd managed to get removal vans up the path, but he doubts that they now could. I asked if he was moving (ever hopeful). No, that's not the point. If they wanted to have a very large removal van come along though, they couldn't and this was obviously something causing them sleepness nights.

It quickly became a gloves off conversation. No more pleasantries. I repeated what I'd said to him before about getting it cut back but how they weren't happy about having to walk past a brown hedge (you must understand that their house is around the corner from ours so the only time they'd see the brown hedge is when they walked or drove by it, unlike us who'd see it daily). He said that we could always put up a fence. I pointed out that this would cost us thousands of pounds and would mean a loss of privacy and wouldn't match the rest of the surrounding garden and would no doubt involve planning permission as we have a grade 2 listed house. His exact words were: That's your problem, not ours.

At which point I wanted to karate chop him but that's probably not allowed on an 80 year old man with a hearing aid and walking stick.

I am spitting mad. I can just tell that village whist evenings have been held with mutterings and murmerings about us and our dastardly hedges. I've been wondering why my ears are permanently on fire. I am so angry that I am very tempted to take our hedge trimmer out and hack the hedge into an ulta-modern Damien Hirst style dead hedge fiasco and tell them to stick that in their pipes and smoke it.

Because dealing with grumpy neighbours and trying to figure out what to do with the sodding hedge is yet another thing to add to my ever-growing to do list. It's not enough that I have to look after two children, run a business, run a house and the myriad of other things that go on. No. I should be out there with my measuring tape working out the thickness of the hedge so that I don't offend my neighbours and their mythical removal vans.

They are so off my Christmas card list.


katyboo1 said...

Poor you.

That sounds crap. I share your pain. Try putting landmines on their drive.

Before we bought this house we were renting a barn conversion in a small cluster of barn conversions. We all had a shared courtyard. Our house was the furthest from the parking space and with the most inaccessible door. Most of our neighbours were kind and welcoming, but the ones who were right next to us were forever complaining about us cutting across the middle of the courtyard instead of walking round the edge because we crunched the gravel too loudly and it looked messy. Then apparently we put up the wrong kind of christmas lights. The list of transgressions went on and on.

We were very polite until the elderly man accused us of chucking an old Amstrad computer in his dustbin one day because he'd heard that Jason worked in computers! After that it was gloves off.

It's because they have nothing better to do with their time and they are bored waiting to die. If you murder him he will probably thank you for it for putting him out of his misery.

Helen said...

you should live in France a bottle of 6 euro wine sweetens any issues :)

Welsh Girl said...

Fiends, foul horrible fiends. Why are peoploe so petty and pathetic?

In all seriousness, get out there and cut the hedge. They have absolutely no rights over the colour of your hedge and plus, it will green up in the spring. You can also point out that looking at a brown hedge is very similar to looking at a brown fence, which they liked the idea of.

Then accidentally trip and stab them in the foot with the cutting shears before ostentatiously hiring a large removal van and asking them to reverse up the drive to check that it works ok!

Home Office Mum said...

All of your respective thoughts have crossed my mind, particularly the stabbing in foot with shears.

Anonymous said...

Oh my. That made me laugh and made me sad all in the same 10 minutes. If it were me, I would totally cut it down to the ground. Bastards. I have an old lady behind me who whines about the compost pile in MY yard. It is a tidy, no food compost pile used for gardening. She tried to tell me a groundhog lived in it. That's funny I turn it often. Just tell them it is your yard and to get over it. Once the stop poopooing about it everyone else will stop too. No more cake for those dirty rotten bastards.