31 July 2014

'Good fences make good neighbours'. A truth Frost was reluctant to admit in his poem. I've always understood what his neighbour was saying. Trust me, good fences really do make good neighbours - even when those neighbours think it rude or sad or backwards to install that good fence.

0356h here in NE Scotland and it's becoming light out. The days are becoming shorter already. Day before yesterday the chill in the wind hinted gently that although we've been enjoying a spell of unusually lovely summer days up here, Autumn with a capital A is going to arrive sooner rather than later. Maybe not, it's usually fairly warmish until late August, early September. I remember two years ago walking out to where the bramble bushes are and needing to roll up my sleeves it was so warm, and marvelling at how good the sun felt on my forearms. This year it's been a bit warmer, hot even, and while Paul is suffering a bit from it (three rounds of chemo will do that to a body) we've both been basking in it, too. It seemed as though it was Autumn for nearly three years running - constant low 50F temps and rain. Rain. Rain. Or grey days threatening rain.

The return of the four seasons is most welcome! We had a real (if mild) winter, we had an early and somewhat brief spring, and we'd been enjoying what passes for summer and then whammo - what passes for a heat wave to the locals and what passes as a great US West Coast or Deep South mid-spring  (more rare than you know unless you lived along the West Coast through the early 70s or the Deep South since) to me arrived and held for nearly a week. Now we're back to what I would have called early-to-mid spring and it's still fab even with the wee warning of colder weather merely being held at bay! Tee shirt weather, last week near stifling weather - funny how these things make me want to say 'Oh yeah, Life is good-ish and getting better':)

We've been busy - you'd think two retired middle-agers wouldn't say something like that but we really have been. Sewing, my new little bespoke jewellery business that actually may turn to such success it's really a business and not a hobby, sewing (winter will come, we'll be in base layers and fleece lined clothing!), home improvement...

Paul has had a new lease on life granted, so to speak - after years of The Mystery Illness he's been found to have some food sensitivities and since eliminating those he's a real live-wire! Name the home improvement project and he's been on it - the latest is privacy fencing between the shared stair splitting the two back gardens of our semi-detached. The main fencing panels are up and the man is on fire now, lol! If the weather holds (and I'm actively praying it does as I have one more load of duvet covers to wash and dry along with the daily household laundry) he's installing the panels that will finally permit us to come and go in normal privacy from our back door.

Very long story and can't really be shortened if you, dear reader wants to understand - you've been warned to back away now, lol!

Our semi lies at an awkward angle as the bottom terrace of three levels cut in on a very low cliff - from the lane along the front we're straight but the back is quite different and the designer-architect should be horsewhipped in my opinion - he/she for some reason thought the back gardens should be split merely by an extremely ill-thought-out narrow riser concrete stair that looks like something straight out of Glasgow sheltered council housing! Although the homes were sold as having private raised back gardens - until Paul put up that fence last week it looked for all the world as though we had 'shared' or 'common' gardens with the equally ridiculous 'bonus' of a footpath running along the retaining walls from back door to front of both sides of the building. (Blimey, even trying to describe the awkward arrangement is awkward!)

Paul and I have the side with the driveway and garage, the family next door have the side without a driveway but thanks to the stair they have access to the next terraced level up the cliff where they park their people mover.

Which they use. Constantly as for some reason they and anyone coming to see them shun the use of the front door although there is parking out there in front. No, they use the back stair for ALL their comings and goings. All. Every single one. Dozens of times a day. Plus the lower stair being used to access the back gardens - for play, hanging out washing, fetching something from the tumble dryer they keep in the garden shed. And so do their friends, family, and the parents of the children she child-minds (a business she took up with it occurring to her to consult the very near neighbours about). Dozens of times a day. Bloody fecking constantly.

Which meant for the past four years my kitchen window blind has been closed. Day or night. Closed. Because good fences really do make good neighbours - by removing the shocking inclination and succumbing to temptation an un-fenced back garden and thus exposed kitchen window present. Well, good manners would have sorted that too, but since they haven't any, apparently, it's been torture. Until this past week.

One thing leads to another - in this case Paul's waking up to the sad truth not only were the neighbours and everyone coming to see them for whatever reason using the back stair to come and go, they were staring in our windows whilst they did. Or standing on the back stair chatting whilst staring in our windows. Loudly chatting, btw. Rather like living in a fishbowl.

And the children were doing the same. All of the children. Let me explain I love the two wee girls next door almost as much as I do my own two granddaughters (yes, finally I announce to the world - my daughter emotionally came home a few weeks ago and I am suddenly the gran of not the one ten year old light of my life - son of Fox - but three more new lights of my life, a boy aged a year younger than 'Bas, a girl about to become six, and a wee girl just turned one). But they are quite open about thinking Paul and I should keep our kitchen window blinds open - BECAUSE WHEN THE BLINDS ARE OPEN THEY CAN SEE US AND THEREBY WATCH US. Yes. Openly stated - 'Please keep the blinds open so we can see what you're doing'. From the six and ten year old. On different occasions. And I don't love being the local entertainment.


You see, apparently they thought 'having a gawp' in our kitchen window was socially acceptable - the children AND their parents AND anyone coming and going to see said neighbours for whatever reason. However, and here's where Paul's waking up occurred, one of the child-minded's mother seems to think Paul and I shouldn't be what she terms our 'half of the garden' when the children are there. Which they are every single bloody f*cking day.

Hence the fence, enough is enough. And the b*itch made it clear yesterday that she intends to stand at the top of the stair chatting loudly to the neighbours living above whilst looking over the stone retaining walls into our garden. I'd laugh but it really wasn't funny - the neighbours are on holiday and this silly twit had the nerve to tell Paul she'd put out the neighbour's bins - which of course means the next two days she'll be coming and going up-down those stairs to put the bins out, and sniffing her disapproval of Paul and I putting up a fence.

ONE - this semi-detached was not sold as having a common garden OR footpath along the back of our sides.

TWO - Paul has been in this house since 1996. They moved in whilst the now-mother of two was carrying the first. That child will be 11 in August. So. Paul was here long before they arrived to apparently assume they own the entire area - and teach their children to believe the same. Heh. We were here first but I get the distinct impression the feeling is if we don't like it we are being unreasonable and should move. Even though Paul (so technically we) was here first.

THREE - since when has it become socially acceptable for children to address un-related adults by their first names? And don't get me started on unmarried 'partners'!! Excuse me, you've got two children in school but are still not married??!! And you're putting on airs as though you're someone special who should be teaching their children it's alright to run roughshod over the neighbour's privacy (not to mention that apparently marriage with children is optional??!!) and acting as though Paul and I are just two old dafties???!!!

FOUR - this ain't council housing! Learn some damn manners and stop trying to peer into my windows! And oh, whilst I'm on it, what the hell were you thinking not at least warning us you were going to have 25 adults and accompanying children using the back stair as a bleacher during your daughter's birthday parties??!! You didn't think maybe it would be polite to tell us you were going to be throwing a garden party - even though at the time there was no fence? Didn't it occur to you that if we'd planned on being out there using our back garden it could be a bit...awkward??!! Or that we'd find it extremely unpleasant to open the kitchen window blinds only to have 25 parents sitting on the stair LOOKING IN AT US?????????!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Which they did with no hesitation! Meh doesn't cover it, princess!

FIVE, and what is really the biggest issue in our minds - She didn't ask us how we might feel about what has become eight VERY noisy children running amuck if she took up child-minding. At first it was two (making four boisterous children in the back garden or quite literally bouncing off the common walls inside), after-school. One of the two was and is exceptionally noisy and rude, btw, but over the past two years it's grown to six - all eight are now cheeky thanks to the lack of good manners on the child-minder's part.

I'm sorry, it doesn't pop into your mind that two middle-aged retirees might not be overjoyed at the thought of hearing the back garden thundering of ill-mannered children, and enduring their beyond rude staring IN OUR BLEEDING WINDOWS???????????????????? We'll leave off what I think of the way those children are CLEARLY bouncing off the common walls when forced inside by sub-zed temps or rain, shall we?

It doesn't penetrate your mind that perhaps it would at least be polite to warn the very near neighbours that not only were you going to take on two for after-school days but you would very soon expand to be a child-minder for toddlers and infants as well as taking on more older children, and that oh hey, in the second year it was going to become all-children all-day - school hols including summer too?!

Well, no, it clearly didn't.

So two weeks ago when Paul overheard the children saying they were bored and wanted us to open our kitchen window so they could look in, and when he got in a huff and went up to our back garden to 'take back our garden' whilst the little beggars were shredding the local peace with their back garden shrieks he got the final awakening. The afore mentioned b*itch came down the stair to collect her especially loud and obnoxious little precious, and made it quite clear from her sniffs and ostentatiously averted eyes that she found our daring to be in our back garden highly un-acceptable.

Paul ordered the fencing panels the very next day. And began digging out the holes. Which led ot being asked what we were doing. Which led to me explaining to the numpty next door that we'd got the distinct impression the b*itch (didn't call her that in conversation to Neighbour Numpty of course) had looked upset to see us out in our garden - so we were installing a privacy fence. Neighbour Numpty looked hurt and bewildered, and also managed to really piss me off by 'granting permission', saying in a tight little voice 'Well, no, if you and Paul want a little privacy in THE garden, go on then with your fence'. As though Paul and I were walling off part of a shared garden (it's not, we checked the title deed) and in essence shutting them out and she was hurt by the shunning.

Paul cannot keep himself from chuckling nastily - he installed the fence panels in a way that COMPLETELY blocks their view into the kitchen window from the top of the stair. I can stand in total privacy from them to hang out washing - the fence is high enough that I can't be in our back garden and see into her window now, either, thus ending the awkward eye aversion I practiced to maintain their privacy.

He's so thrilled with it all he's gone onto installing a privacy panel and gate across the footpath, and is building a new stair from our footpath up to the back garden - soon, to reach OUR back garden we'll go out our back door, through the footpath privacy gate, and up the stair from our enclosed footpath. No more 'Oooh, there's Paul (or me), let's go talk to them!'

Sweet Jesus, it was like a several times a day ambush! Or gauntlet.

But now it's over.

Good fences make very, very good neighbours!