When we moved into our house 18 years ago the house next door, that we join onto, was a B&B. Quite a scabby looking, disreputable one but still a bona-fide B&B and the landlord/owner lived onsite. After maybe 7 or 8 years he sold it and moved to France and it was bought, as a going concern by Mr Singh. Over the years it has been neglected and because Mr Singh lives far away in a leafy suburb and has lots of other properties to tend, he hasn't maintained it properly. First the sign outside was smashed to pieces by drunks and not replaced. Then there was an alleged murderer living there (he got off - Hampshire Police lost the crucial evidence at the tip) who threatened my friend Pam who lives on the other side of the B&B, with a big stick after accusing her of being a Peeping Tom at his girlfriend. Pam is a married grandmother. A couple of years back the B&B became empty and at Christmas time 2009 the water tank burst, resulting in an insurance claim for us of £6000. Three rooms (including my lads' bedrooms); the hall, stairs and landing; and the cupboard under the stairs were all soaked and we had masses of disruption. Pam told me other day that there had been squatters in there last year (I'm so nosy - how did I not know that?) and that there were two smack heads cooking up crack in the back garden last Summer. The police were called both times and at all times, when Mr Singh comes round at the request of the police, or me, or Pam, he just smiles and laughs as if it's nothing at all. That's the background.
For the last two weeks there has been the biggest amount of banging and carrying on next door and it became obvious from the dust and rubble that something was happening. We could tell from the hours that were being worked (after 5pm and weekends) that the builders were doing what's called a 'guvvy job' where I come from. I'm not sure whether they are the same Polish builders that he offered to us when he drenched our house because we didn't take him up on the offer. Yesterday we were woken up at 8am again and when I saw Mr Singh outside the B&B, stamping down the rubble in a dangerously overloaded skip I decided to confront him.
I started off extremely politely by telling him that we were not going to be woken up at 8am any more. Mr Singh was smiling. I said it was clear to me the men were working somewhere else and coming to his job afterwards, their prerogative, but that we too work all week and wanted to stay in bed at the weekend so we would appreciate the builders holding off until 10am.
'8.30?' said Mr Singh.
I, incredulous, said that I wasn't negotiating with him and that we had had quite enough of the banging, hacking and dust (they have hacked every scrap of plaster off the walls, along with the wooden laths, which they burned on a hair-raising 8 foot high pyre in the yard yesterday). He carried on smiling whilst I asked the builder not to start working until 10 at the weekend and he sensibly agreed - when you're having a half-English, half-Polish conversation with an irate neighbour woman it's always wise to agree with her!
Then Mr Singh made the fatal mistake of criticising my tree. When we moved in the tree outside the front door was little and now it's very big. Mr Singh suggested that we might want to cut it to about 12' since the roots are going to damage the pillar between our houses. The pillar is the archway over the porches, where the front doors are set back. Well, I'm not having anybody criticise my tree, especially not somebody whose fence we replaced a few years back because it looked so awful and somebody who had caused our insurance premiums to increase.
I gave it to him with both barrels. Told him that he had destroyed my home with water and had never even apologised. That his builders had started this work and he hadn't had the manners to call to me or Pam and explain what was happening. That his property was such an eyesore that I knew he'd had squatters. That he had cost my insurers £6000 ('For wallpaper? Surely not?!') and that I couldn't believe he had the gall to come to my door and complain about my tree. In fact I had said to Big Man before Christmas that it could do with trimming but now I shan't be cutting it for a very long time.
I'd like to say that it ended with a particularly scathing put down by me but it just kind of fizzled out. I did say that if he damaged my house again in any way I would go after him with everything I had (cringey...I'm such a drama queen), and he kind of drifted off, still smiling....
....leaving me feeling like this.
Are your neighbours a pain in the proverbial, or would I be your 'Neighbour from Hell'???!
PS We are going to Liverpool tomorrow. See you when I get back! Also, if anybody has any of the Tesco knife vouchers that they don't want let me know will you? I want the knives but don't shop at Tesco enough to get the required amount of vouchers. Am willing to swap a £10 off Sainsbury's first online shop voucher! ;P