callmemadam (callmemadam) wrote,

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Wouldn't it be nice, to get on wiv me neighbours

We live in a Victorian stable. Sort of. Once there was a big house of which ours was just an outpost. The big house was pulled down and the stable/cottage converted in the 1960s, before our time. It must have been nice then but land round here is valuable so the builders moved in and now we are an island of what I would like to call shabby chic (though some would omit the 'chic') in a sea of new houses. For historical reasons, the odd shape of the garden means that we have part boundaries with six other properties.

People must live somewhere and they need new houses but experience shows that people who live in new houses are different from those who live in old ones. "Oh", they think, "a brand new house but what a nice, mellow old wall and such a pleasant, leafy outlook." So they move in, spend six months covering their new gardens with paving stones and installing ponds, then sit back and look around them. Suddenly the view looks different. Aren't those trees rather, er, big? And could that wall have a bit of a lean to it? Suddenly, the attractive trees (all of which have preservation orders on them to protect the 'treescape' of the neighbourhood) and the wall which has withstood subsidence from clay soil for 150 years, have become a problem.

My first complainant, several years ago, put my back up immediately by introducing himself over the phone as 'Dr' X, à la John Reid, in a vain attempt to impress and intimidate me. He found that there was a very tall tree right next to the house he had just bought and wanted part of it taken down. Happily we are now on fairly pleasant terms. Then there was the man who complained of an overhanging branch and wanted me to pay to have it cut off. This I declined to do and he stormed off, offering as a parting shot that 'his daughter was a lawyer'. Having presumably phoned his daughter and found that he was completely in the wrong, he became sweetness itself. Until he insisted that 'his surveyor' opined that a pathetic little tree down at the bottom of the wilderness was causing that part of the wall to fall down. The tree surgeon said this was quite impossible but to keep the peace we had the tree down anyway.

Now we have new neighbours on the longest boundary. They are obviously real neat freaks. They have begun by stripping all the ivy from the top of the wall (our wall), thus destroying the habitats of a few wrens, butterflies and other beasties. Now today I've had a visit from an engineer asking to look at the wall from our side as it apparently has a distinct lean at one end. He was offhand with me and I was not very gracious to him. No doubt we shall soon be getting a letter instructing us to do something about it.

As I see it we are paying a) high Council Tax b) expensive tree surgeons and c) builders in order to preserve the amenities of the area for other people and I am sick of it. Especially when they are all richer than we are and some of them even drive 4X4s.
Tags: gardens, houses, neighours

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