Until last summer, we lived at the end of a cul-de-sac. Beside our house was a small alley; backing onto this alley were garages belonging to the houses in the adjoining street.
When we moved in, the garage closest us belonged to a sweet old lady who’d owned her house since it was built in the thirties. She didn’t have a car but kept the paintwork looking nice: green and cream – probably the same as when she moved in.
Eventually she went to live with her son and for a while the house stood empty. Then builders arrived: the garage door was widened and replaced with a sizeable metal number.
The first encounter with our new neighbour – a well-built chap of about thirty – was when he hammered on the front door. Our car, parked outside our house – as it is in the picture above – was preventing him from putting his car into his garage. Could we move it?
In truth, we were a little surprised. Admittedly the alley is quite narrow but all his neighbours seemed to be able to access their garages, even those who lived further along with just the width of the alley in which to manoeuvre. Still, we shuffled back a bit and watched as he swept along the street in a bloody enormous white Merc.
The following day, ActorLaddie was recording at the RNIB so I was first in from work. I was preparing our tea and serving GrannieBorders hers, when there came more hammering on the door. Our new neighbour. I needed to move my car again. Now.
OK, I said. Just give me a couple of minutes.
He went mad. He’d told us yesterday that he needed the space kept clear; he had a large car and needed a large space; I’d deliberately parked so as to obstruct his garage; curses and plagues upon me and mine for being such a horrible person.
It took a couple of ginger wines that night to stop me shaking. It’s a sign of how lucky I am, I guess, that I’m not used to be shouted out. Equally upsetting was the accusation of having been deliberately unhelpful. Look here, I wanted to say; I’m nice, really I am. I read the Guardian and look after my disabled mother-in-law and hand in lost purses and pat kittens and everything. I didn’t actually say this to him, of course – I’m not that stupid. But the injustice was burning.
A couple of days later, we got back from work to find ancient, tatty white van parked in front of our house. GrannieBorders had seen it being pushed into place by our new neighbour and some similarly bulky men. Like many with limited mobility, GB enjoyed watching at the world outside her window. Her view now consisted of a dirty white van. And it stayed that way, for nearly six months.
Mr VanMan was approached first by ActorLaddie, and then a series of other neighbours, to ask if he could move the van. Apart from being an eye-sore, its position made it very difficult for the ambulances which came to collect GrannieBorders for the day centre, resulting in her having to be pushed in all weathers to the top of the street. His response was consistent, at least, in that everyone came away feeling that they were on the point of being walloped.
The day before the tax was due to expire, the van was taken away. And a few months later, Mr VanMan moved out and the house was taken by a young family who whipped their car in and out of the garage with the ease of an ice-dancer.
We’ve moved now, of course, and I had pretty much forgotten about The VanMan Affair until EggBoy appeared.
About a month ago, we heard a thunk from the front of the house, which sounded like a bird had flown into the window. On investigation, it turned out to be not the chicken but the egg. Since then, we appear to be the target of some disaffected local yoof who is amusing himself by throwing eggs at our house. Sometimes, as a change, he rings the bell and then runs away.
It turns out that egg is a right pain to get off the windows. It’s a small inconvenience, of course, in the overall scheme of things, but our neighbours are all so lovely that, as with The VanMan Affair, it comes as a bit of a surprise to be at the receiving end of ill-will.
We were telling LittleBro about this the other night and he reminded me that, as children, we were not adverse ourselves to a game of Knock-Down-Ginger. Of course, that wasn’t the same at all. We were just high-spirited children and I expect that our victims closed their front doors playfully chuckling “those little scamps.”
Whereas, with EggBoy, we have webcams poised at the ready, and won’t rest until he and his eggs are well and truly beaten.
If you are not already signed up to GiveAsYouLive to help fund Parkinson’s research, please please do. It’s easy, it costs nothing and it will bring a cure nearer. The link is here.
The first year of The Jelly Chronicles, with a few added pics, is available as an e-book here. It’s £2.99 plus VAT and profits are going to The Cure Parkinson’s Trust. Seems to only work on i-Pads at the moment, alas, though if anyone can figure out how to read it on Android or PC, I’d love to know.
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