Moving house is supposedly one of the more stressful things we put ourselves through. Add in one of those awful weekends life likes to chuck your way from time to time, and you have the recipe for Xanax.
As weekends go, the one that just ended was rubbish – even by my low standards. My husband broke down in a torrential downpour on a major motorway with no hard shoulder. One of these new fangled smart motorways that killed 38 people in the few years. My dog picked up a skin infection that is now costing an arm and a leg in mature cheese to disguise the crushed up pound-coin-sized antibiotics a sadistic (and now extremely well-off) vet prescribed. I dropped and broke three highly pressurised glass bottles of traditional lemonade (living the high life). You wouldn’t believe just how much mess that causes. And just how far the shards of glass will travel. And just how sharp they are when you sit on one. And how hard it is to administer a plaster to your rear that stays put.
To top it all, our soon-to-be ex-neighbour from hell decided to have one last go at sending me over the edge.
Neighbour from hell
When people talk neighbours from hell, they usually mean some antisocial creep who plays loud music, smokes way-too-much weed and/or smears windows with excrement. Or variations on those basic three themes. My appalling neighbour does none of this. He’s of the ‘nice to your face, vile behind your back’ sort. The kind of person who used to dominate the 90s gay scene.
Over eight years, he’s policed a dim, barnacled, smelly area of no-man’s-land between each flat in our ancient under-maintained building. The kind of place you could keep a prisoner of conscience secure in the knowledge they’d crack within hours and spill every secret. Our neighbour spends each and every waking hour making sure nobody dare set foot in this precious scrap of hell.
We wanted to make sure the space didn’t put off flat buyers. We came to an agreement with the people who own it to clean it up and fill it with plants.
Neighbour wasn’t pleased.
Usually, I’d be able to tell such a man to shove his displeasure firmly up his hoop. Sadly, he gets to say whether we can extend the years on our lease as we sell and get moving. I have to lap it all up. And rather than tell me to my face, how did he choose to announce his irritation? That’s right. By email. Through his solicitor.
Dear reader, I’m ashamed to say I threw myself on his mercy. I rammed my tongue so far up his rear end it came out of his mouth.
So far, the matter looks to be resolved, and it’s only cost an extra £1700 in legal fees to send a letter to five or six different people. Still, if it means we get on with moving house and away from this awful man …
Why am I telling you this? Because I want to set down what life in Britain is like in 2021. The NIMBY (Not in my back yard) culture that expects everything should run only for the benefit of those in power slides down even to my lowly level on the ladder. That and I want to make sure I don’t forget the details and the rage so I can use it in my next book.
And use it I will.