Tuesday, April 5, 2011
To Be Rectified Immediately
To say Jim, Mick and I have a difficult relationship with our neighbours would be incorrect. We don’t have a relationship with our neighbours to speak of. Nevertheless, considering we seem to be the youngest people on our street, and the only renters in our block, we consider ourselves the definition of low maintenance – considerate parkers, thoughtful returners of incorrect mail, cheerful nodding acquaintances – when it comes to those that live within our general vicinity.
We do our best to combat the undying assumption that the 3 of us are filthy university students living in a world of vice and excess as some sort of ménage à trios. Perhaps we undermine ourselves a little with our loud references to choosing a Mormon lifestyle, and the occasional quips about working a nearby corner, but on the whole we try to give off an air of maturity.
Sorry, we tried to give off an air of maturity.
Then our neighbours, after 3 years of living in awkward, but relative harmony decided they had a problem with the way we kept our yard and complained to the building’s strata board. Then the strata board complained to our disinterested real estate agent (who only remembers we exist when there’s a water bill). Then our perpetually absent real estate people contacted us with one of their typically abrupt missives (the type you find rude for the first 2 years, then merely mildly offensive after that), copying in our kindly landlords.
Suddenly, based on the report in the letter we received last week, it sounded as if Baghdad and the Amazon rainforest had a drunken hook-up one tequila-fuelled Tuesday, resulting in the conception of our yard. Our faux garden (because it’s not really a garden, so much as an unofficial gathering of greenery – casual drinks, the occasional BBQ, nothing serious, just friends) was reportedly so overgrown it practically sounded lecherous. Never mind the 3 construction sites peppering the homes of our street, the overhang of our hedge was such a OH & S issue for sidewalk lovers everywhere it might as well have been mugging them.
So then, it was official. Maturity, as with ‘all bets’ and ‘the gloves’ was off.
Intent on avoiding being accused of noncompliance, but keen to show the teenage scorn all these grown ups seem to have applied to us we decided to that (as our agent scrawled) this needed to be rectified immediately.
Giant garden shears? Check.
We sort of took a scorched earth policy. They wanted that front yard cleared? You can bet your arse it got cleared. Cleared of character, cleared of charm, cleared of anything that disguised it from being the patch of dirt it was when we first moved in. Goodbye hedge, farewell small tree.
Landscape & Design By The Neighbours Who Dobbed On Us (without ever once trying to discuss the issue with us directly, which, needless to say, would have led to an apology and a gentle pruning).
In the end, we decided salting the earth was a little extreme.