Wednesday, 24 September 2008

Love Thy Neighbour (or not)

I'm a bit pissed off.  Not about some ache or pain I have to moan about or some treatment option but about 2 of my busy body interfering neighbours back home.  

You can imagine the stress my wife is under, with me in hospital, a full time challenging job, 2 kids and a house full of builders (we're having some building work done).  I mean, just having me around is enough to stress most people to breaking point.  Now, if you are a normal sane kind of person, you would be able to appreciate this and your immediate thought would not be to add some extra stress on top of this.  Hmmm, that's what I thought, but not so.  Let me give some background.
On one side of us, we have an older couple.  He took early retirement and is enjoying pottering around doing his thing, whereas she still works.  They have some kids who have left home but visit pretty regularly (bringing washing or grandchildren, depending whether it's son or daughter!  I'll leave you to work out which).  Now, they are lovely!  When they found out I was ill and was in on my own, he popped round with some food for me, so I didn't have to cook.  How wonderful!  They regularly ask after and offer if there is anything they can do to help and you know they are sincere.  
On the other side lives the lady of the hounds.  She is knocking on a bit, smokes like a trooper and you can often catch the subtle whiff of booze on her breath in the afternoon.  Her heart is in the right place and I'm sure she means well but she is a bit of an obsessive.  She is animal crazy and has 3 ex-RSPCA rescue dogs.  Somehow the 3 ugliest dogs I have ever seen, but I won't hold that against them.  I used to think she was quite a nice lady, but then there was the fence incident.  
I wasn't going to go into this but what the hey.  So, we own the fence that we share between our two properties.  I must admit, some of the concrete posts that hold the wooden fence panels were looking a bit dicky and she had been whining about them on and off for a little while.  So, I finally got off my backside and arranged for some of them to be replaced.  Steve, the local fencing dude came over.  Now, Steve is a pretty laid back kind of fella (or so I thought!) and got on with the job.  I arrived back home from work to an affray!  Next door lady was having a full on shouting match with him, accompanied by her ever present side kick (nick named mad cat woman), who I've not even mentioned yet.  Apparently, she was accusing Steve and by extension me, with a list of charges:  a) trying to steal some of her land  b) poisoning her plants and making it impossible to grow new ones  c) damaging her top soil.  
Steve was incredulous.  He looked shell shocked and gave the impression that he had somehow walked out of the normal world and ended up in some dark version of Narnia.  So, the complaints in question related to the concrete posts that held the fence up.  At the bottom of each post is a bulb of concrete, which keeps it anchored into the ground.  Steve had uprooted the previous knackered post and plugged the new one in the old hole and then added cement, to secure it in place.  The same hole, but new post and new concrete (which would set and form the plug).  
"Oh no", she said, "the old hole was much smaller.  You have extended the post onto my property" (meaning the few inches of concrete around the base).  She was demanding that half of the concrete plug piece was chopped off.  Although feasible, quite a foolish thing to do, as then the concrete post would no longer be stable and would most likely fall into her garden (no doubt causing uproar and accusations of sabotage and invasion).  Steve has explained to her repeatedly but to no avail, she was convinced.  The other charges related to the fact that the soil had been disturbed (well go figure Sherlock!  We've just had to dig out a concrete post!).  
Rather than tell her to shove it where the sun don't shine, we (Steve and I) came up with an idea.  We agreed to get her some compost, to replace any topsoil (a pretty good deal, which she reluctantly accepted) and to chip off some of the concrete and resit it (a slight fib).  We did this second part, by Steve chipping at some of the concrete around the edge, until she lost interest and wandered inside, whereupon the post was secured, buried and then covered with top soil to hide from peering little eyes.
Anyway, that was the fence incident.  Don't even get me started on the hedge incident, as that totally went beyond belief!  Grrr!  It gets me annoyed even thinking about it.  I may tell you one day, but I think I still have a fair bit of counselling to go!
Right, before I go on, let me introduce the lady of the hounds side kick, mad cat woman.  She is quite chubby, walks with a waddle and lives on her own with too much time on her hands.  She is known to the local police because she rings them so often, reporting trivia.  She had a full on vendetta against the pub landlord across the road from her (for no known apparent initial reason), but she called the police on him several times, putting his license in jeopardy and he had to painstakingly prove her accusations incorrect to avoid problems (through going through CCTV footage, bringing in witnesses etc).  Finally, the police told her to wind her neck in (except in police talk) and he could get on with his job.  Her campaign went on for a good few months though.  Anyway, she is only every seen wearing a stone washed blue denim top and a pair of dark trousers.  If the slightest thing goes passed her house you can see the curtain twitch.  It doesn't matter if it is a plastic bag blowing by on the wind or a small boy on his bicycle (in either case she would probably be right on the phone to the police to either: report the pub over the road for littering or the small boy for being a possible ram raider, thug, hoodie or suicide bomber).  If she is not curtain twitching she is busy-bodying.  What is busy-bodying, I hear you ask.  Well, the dictionary definition has it as:  busy-bodying: verb - to go around neighbouring properties, interfering and generally being a nosey old sow.
So, she might be having a look in your bins or a quick peek through your window on the way by.  She thinks she is protecting the neighbourhood I think, but she just comes across as a nut.
Why the name mad cat woman?  Well, when we first moved in, she used to come and report to us that she had seen our cats outside.  A knock on the door at some bizarre time in the evening and there it's standing.  No hello, just, "your cat was on the road this afternoon".  Not a lot you can say to that.  "Really?  How super." (our road is not a main one).  She would then turn and leave or alternately stand there waiting, for what I never could tell.  Eventually she'd go and all would be well in the world.  So, she would report back to us that our fully grown adult outdoor cats have crossed the road (something they have successfully done many times.  Both knowing that traffic is not to be trusted and cars moving towards them are to be avoided.  Pretty standard cats really).  Sometimes she would take more radical action and you'd see her hand come through the cat flap, shoving one of the cats inside!  I guess she thought you was protecting them.  A bit of a mentalist if you ask me.  
Right, so that's pretty much the background.  There is lots more but I think you get the idea.  Now, back to my wife Sammie.  So, Sammie, worried about me in here, got 2 young kids to deal with, a pretty stressful full time job and a house full of builders.  Yesterday morning she receives a card through the door from the RSPCA inspector.  She rings the number and they tell her in a not too friendly tone that we have been reported for neglecting the cats.  Basically, they said that they had two reports of the cats being left unfed and locked out for up to 4 days at a time.  Sam, obviously was upset but also infuriated (and if you know my wife, you don't want her infuriated).  Yes, she has been away for several days at a time, but when she is away her mum will have the kids and drop them off in the morning, then come by and feed the cats and pick up any clothes and bits the kids might need.  She would also drop by later specifically to check on the cats (she has two herself and is quite protective of them) and then when picking the kids up from the child minder in the evening would stop in too.  If you looked at our black and white cat, you could see he wasn't going hungry (he has been referred to as "the bear" and "the biggest cat I have ever seen in my life").  One of the cats has an allergy, which we have some tablets from the vet to treat but had broke out into a rash.  The RSPCA woman said that it needed seeing to immediately, so Sam took the cat to the vet, who gave her an injection and said another would be needed in 3 weeks (but was not worried).  Sam reported back to the RSPCA woman, who then became very nice (I guess, they have to assume that reported people are guilty as charged until shown not to be) and complimented Sam on her rapid action.  They chatted for a bit and the RSPCA woman said that she thought a couple of our neighbours had some serious issues.  Sam said, "you don't know the half of it" and proceeded to fill her in with some details.  So hopefully, now, we will not be getting any more surprise visits and any future interfering will be stopped at the source.  I applaud people making sure that animals are not being abused, but interfering old crones with nothing better to do than make 2 + 2 = 7 and ring the authorities really annoy me.
Ahh!  The therapeutic effect of a good rant.  If you stuck with me through all that, then well done!


Damnyoureyes said...

You should give her address on the blog and would could all send her 'gifts'.

Sorry the scan wasn't as good as they hoped, good luck with the next lot.

Take care buddy

The Finisher said...

Tell us about the hedge incident. Go on, you know it makes sense!

Richard said...

You just want me to turn my lovely blog about disease and blood etc, into a petty squables with busy body interfering old neighbours one. Fair enough. If a few people say they want the hedge story, then by jiggerdy I'll tell it, even if it requires me going back into intense theraphy (on your head be it, Finisher!)

Anonymous said...

Yes, yes, yes, we want to hear it...we need to hear it!!


The wife of Wanners !!!! said...

Thankyou for the good giggle your blog has just given me at work !!! I agree we must hear the hedge story.

Anonymous said...

How anyone can think that cat of yours is underfed and neglected is beyond belief.He has his own moon!

Rob ;-)

andy said...

Awesome rant, clearly the hedge incident neads an airing...

Sorry to hear about the scan, and hope the new stuff treats you well, and gets the job done...

dangermain said...

hedge incident please

Anonymous said...

Hi Again.

Well a little while ago I had a fall out with a neighbour over their fence post encroaching on my garden...they moved away.

Now I know where they went.


Adam said...

Nothing like a good rant mate!!