I’ve just returned from doing battle in my community. It was nothing too serious but there were times when things did become rather brutal and divisive. Worst still, aspersions were cast on my dear wife for the time it takes her to wash our windows. And before you start to ask why I’m not washing them, I’d just like to say that I usually do.
Anyway, one of my neighbours (let’s call her Aggie) complained to our board of management that I should not be sitting in a particular part of our communally owned gardens. Her reason? Because she had spent some of her own money to make it look nice and it should therefore be up to her to decide who sits there. The board had already said, before she spent a penny, that the area would remain a communal one with community access for all. And, besides, many of the residents in our block of Victorian flats spend money in tarting up little pieces of our extensive gardens. But since the dispute involved me, known affectionately as a ‘lease vigilante’ in the area, the board thought it only right that they should support my neighbour in her request for help and to put me in my place, which was well away from Aggie’s place.
Aggie and two board members eventually agreed to meet with me to discuss this extremely important matter – they had previously declined my offer of a meeting but the email exchanges obviously had them rattled and overworked. I won’t go into all the details and outcomes of the meeting except to mention two points.
Firstly, the outcome of the meeting was exactly the same as the proposal I had made a few months earlier before all the nonsense of complaining and exchanging emails had properly got going. Everyone could have saved themselves a lot of time and heartache if they’d just listened to me in a less partisan way.
My wife the spy
Secondly, Aggie made a surprising comment at the meeting. I’m still not sure if it was meant to be evidence in support of her rapidly failing case against me. Not only did she prefer if I didn’t sit in the communal area under dispute, she also felt that my wife was taking too long to wash our windows; the ones that overlooked the area. I didn’t respond to this, though I did think about saying, “You’ve got to be having a fucking laugh.” But, sadly, Aggie was being deadly serious about what amounted to an allegation that my wife was somehow spying on her as she sat in the sunshine reading a book and, presumably, playing around with her stopwatch.
During my stunned and uncharacteristic silence, I quickly tried to calculate how long it should take someone to wash three large windows and the frames within which they were set. It was a mind-boggling piece of mathematics and I eventually had to admit to myself that I was not only baffled, I was also shit at maths.
Justification or what?
There were, of course, two straightforward responses that I could have made if I’d had my wits about me, which I didn’t. I could have pointed out that, when my wife washes windows, she tends to do a good job, which takes time. And, secondly, I could have reminded Aggie that my wife had, quite recently, shattered the ball and socket joint of her shoulder into three pieces and had never properly regained the full use of her arm. This contributed to her inability to do press-ups, gracefully swing from tree to tree, or speed-wash tall windows while standing on step ladders.
I’m glad I didn’t make either of these responses because it was none of Aggie’s fucking business and, besides, I thought it would be better to share these insights with the readers of Dorset Eye first.
Do you have stories to tell about neighbours, property management companies or anyone else who makes weird and wonderful accusations against others? Let me know.
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The Tea Maker