Wednesday, 26 November 2008

Shed-Wars, not a case of snakes on a plane but neighbours in your face

Our shed building project has been put back after complaints from the neighbours, thankfully not the nice ones but the ones that we have managed 5 conversations with in 10 years. 3 of them have been over the shed and have taken place in the last couple of weeks. (At this rate we will be at Christmas card swapping status by about 2056).

Our first conversation with them set such a high standard that we were unable to repeat the exercise for some three or four years. To be fair it is her not him (Dave) who is the problem. I’m confident that on his own Dave would be a very nice and worthwhile addition to the neighbourhood. We would probably invite him around for BBQ’s and drinks but, attached as he is to Margaret (1), he has more chance of becoming POTUS than getting an invite around to ours.

(1) I think Margaret is her name but as we’ve only been living next door for 10 years so it would be understandable if I’ve got it wrong.

The scene was as follows. It was about ten years ago and we had just moved into our new house. The neighbours moved in a week later so Mrs B and I decided to pop around and introduce ourselves. We knock on the door and wait, a short pause and the door opens a crack, just enough for us to see a couple of eyes peering out at us.

Me & Mrs B – “Hi, we are your next door neighbours and thought it would be nice to introduce ourselves.”

Slight Pause

Margaret – “I think you need to talk to Dave.”

Door slams in our faces – Perhaps she miss heard us and thought we said that we were mass murderers looking for our next victim or even worse Jehovah’s looking for a chat…..

Mrs B (hair slight array from the force of the door) – “That went well!”

Me – “Yes, nice to know the new neighbours are friendly.”

This was followed by a slow trudge back home, which made Napoleons’ retreat from Moscow look like a picnic in the park. (If anyone happens to run into Tchaikovsky let him know that if he is ever looking to top his 1812 overture he should pop around to ours for tea and I can give him some details of a real war…..)

Now I can’t remember all the conversations we have had over the years. I did manage to borrow a wheelbarrow once, which I suspect will remain the high point of the relationship. When the shed project got underway, I had the courtesy to let them know that we would be putting up a shed and asked permission to go onto their property to fix the guttering. The only comment from Dave at the time was “The guttering had better not overhang our property”. I assured him it wouldn’t.

About six weeks later Mitch (chief architect and builder, when he is not nursing a hangover) and I received a summons to attend a hearing next door. Apparently, they were not happy about the shed. As we entered the house, the lovely Margaret verbally assaulted us with a selection of comments screamed at high volume. I can’t remember them all but the highlights were :-

“You’re just an East End wide boy” - naturally I assumed she was talking to Mitch.

“You don’t care about any one, you just march in and do whatever you want” - Was I suddenly George Bush? Is Michael Moore about to make a documentary about me? I don’t think so…..

- “It looks like something put up after the war, some prefabricated rubbish, you know what I mean, having been dragged up in the East End” - Oh gods, she was talking about me (2) and as for poor Mitch, this was his pride and joy she was dragging through the mud.

(2) While I have to admit to having purchased a house in Leytonstone (3), I was twenty and did not know any better. It hardly constitutes being an East End guttersnipe and I did sell it after a couple of years for a huge profit of about £3.35p. You live and learn…. I quietly put her straight on the East End bit - after all, my sister would never forgive me. She, being the posh one in the family, would never accept being related to a cockney, even a fake one.

(3) How did they know my life history? It turns out that my mother, the traitor (4), had been blabbing and divulging snippets of my life to Dave in cosy little chats over the fence during one of her cat sitting visits…..

(4) Is it ethically wrong to have your own mother shot for consorting with the enemy. I guess I should give her the benefit of the doubt and judge that it was before actual hostilities had been broken out. However I will closely monitoring her future conduct……

“You think you’re so much better than us” -Well yes, I don’t just scream at people and slam the door in their face. (Although I could certainly learn to make exceptions for certain people in the neighbourhood.…..)

I decided not to react and instead asked her what the problem was: “Dave, tell him” - came the silky and smooth response, that peeled off layers of our facial skin. (Remind me to let Mrs B know that there is no need to invest in expensive exfoliation treatments, when she can just nip next door for a friendly chat with Margaret…..)

Apparently, our shed was blocking their light. Not direct light mind you but reflected light, reflected off our own wall (I feel so betrayed. Imagine finding out that parts of your own home have been consorting with the enemy. I can see that I will have to put our wall "on report" along side my mother).

Putting it all into perspective the shed was no more then a foot above the existing fence. As Mitch and I stood in their kitchen, on a dull day without any lights on, we could clearly see the vitriol being poured on us. I was having trouble keeping a straight face especially when Mitch said that we had no Reference datum to work on. If looks could kill I would have been finishing the shed off on my own. “I’m not talking to you!!” Margaret screeched in that friendly tone of hers, somehow managing to increase the decibels and menace in her voice to even more breathtaking levels. Perhaps someone should notify the Guinness book of records.

The next request was to lower the shed. Why did we need it so high? Apparently, her cousin had a shed that he "happily" ducked to get into and if it was good enough for him, surely it was good enough for us. Mitch and I retreated from the onslaught before we collapsed laughing.
Who would have thought that these would turn out to be the foundations for a War?

I returned later on a solo suicide mission and offered to put up some wood facing on the side of the shed to match the fence, this was surprisingly well received and I almost got away without further abuse. Unfortunately, Margaret then asked me if the water butt was going to be returned to the back of the shed. This was a bit confusing as there never had been a water butt there. It suddenly dawned on me she meant the compost bin. I made the mistake of telling her this. I thought my ear drums were going to burst as her shrieks reached new highs that even dogs would have had difficulty picking up. I tried to explain that the compost bin had been there for over eight years and had never caused her any trouble, but by this time she was heading for meltdown, all she could do was babble about snakes living in compost bins. Apparently, she was not just afraid of snakes but allergic to them to boot.Once Dave had managed to cool her down, risking life and limbs as he manually untwisted her undergarments, Margaret demanded to know if I was intending to keep anything dangerous in there. I assured her that Mrs B had been banned from taking unsupervised trips to the shed. Margaret was clearly not amused; although I’m sure I saw a slight smirk break across Dave’s face.

I was very tempted to put a note through their letterbox asking if any one has seen my pet Boa Constrictor which had escaped, while Mrs B was more for the direct approach and wanted to put some grass snakes in her garden, especially when she heard that Margaret had called our fat cat fat. The damned cheek of the woman, as if her own daughters don’t strain the scales and shop in the over sized section for the less than petite.

Wrap up – what has happened since
Shortly after these events, Mitch emigrated to Canada. Although he has never admitted it, I firmly believe that his shed building pride took a severe battering during the war. To date he has never designed or built another shed.

Dave never even made the short list for POTUS. I believe the thought of having Margaret as first lady was even too much for the American public.

Please note that no snakes were actually harmed during the creation of this Blog, although McG may have eaten a couple of earthworms during the foundation-digging phase of the project.

And finally, no peace treaty has ever been signed, so officially the shed war continues…….

Mitch and I prepare an assault ladder to take on the dastardly Margaret, turns out we would have been better off using ear muffs

McG not as innocent as he looks.

That’s it for another BlackLOG - historical – if you have enjoyed it please pass it on to anyone you know who might also enjoy it or anyone you don't particularly like and would like to see suffer. You can also tune into the up to date version BlackLOG.


Anonymous said...


Mr B - check out Nether region II, the last post for today. You have won a award... LOL


Anonymous said...

I'll check the post out later... boss actually wants me to work.


BlackLOG said...

Why thank you AV much appreciated. I do however feel like I have received the award while sitting on the Bog itself. For some reason after I posted the latest BlackLOG Historical an overnight gremlin came in and removed all the spacing – either that or McG (our fat cat) got hungry. Rather frustratingly, while I am at work I can view the Blog but can’t sign onto the account so could not correct the page. So slightly red faced and with my pants around my ankles I graciously accept this reward on behalf of the many Bloggers who never get recognised.

P.S can I be cheeky and add it to both the BlackLOG & BlackLOG Historical or does it only count for the latter……

Douglas said...

My OBTF has just lengthened by one. Two, actually, but I'm still confused. I have a little trouble translating from English to American. It's doubly difficult because they share a common history but diverged due to a pesky revolution. I want to assure you I hold no grudges because of King George.

Don't pay any attention to AV. Put the award anywhere you want; it's yours, he gave it to you and can't take it back now.

BlackLOG said...

Welcome aboard Douglas nice of you to make the trip. It is after all a fair distance from our old colony.

As for the language barrier, we Brits often berate you Yanks for ruining the mother tongue but I believe American English is closer to the English at the time of the Mayflower. Does this in fact mean we should actually be berating you for holding back our language?

If you need anything translated you should contact my editor Mrs B (she has now taken to correcting my text messages. Is there no end to her talent. I tried to explain that the younger generation don't expect or understand long words but she is not having it.....)

Douglas said...

Someone else always says it better...

England and America are two countries separated by a common language.
--George Bernard Shaw