Monday, July 11, 2005

There goes the neighbourhood

I live in a spacious, well maintained first floor flat in a nice part of town. My neighbours are, for the most part, fairly old but I don't mind that as any noise from deafening tellies etc is over by 11pm. The rest of the road is filled with beautiful turn-of-the-century red brick properties, and a private school with immaculate grounds. There's a park five minutes walk away with rolling green spaces and a very good children's playground which makes Small Person very happy in the absence of a garden of our own. School is five minutes away, work is five minutes the other side of that and we are within walking distance of the town centre. On the whole, a very nice place to live. Apart from Drop Dead Fred, that is.

To the left of the low-rise sixties block that I live in is a gorgeous house with leaded windows, I suspect at least four bedrooms, and beautiful gardens. I can see the back and side of the house from mine and Small Person's bedroom windows, and part of their garden. A couple in their sixties live there - I presume they are retired, and I met her last year when she came round the flats selling poppies for Remembrance Day. All well and good, except for the unavoidable fact that the pair of them are fond of a drink or twelve, and find it a little difficult to keep a lid on their tempers once the Harveys Bristol Cream starts to flow in earnest. I first realised there was something of a problem shortly after I moved in last year. To be honest, you don't have to be Derren Brown to work out that a couple whose Sunday routine involves one party locking the other out of the house while said affronted party bellows "drop dead, you bitch" through the kitchen window may not be staring down the barrel of a golden wedding celebration. Tensions flared throughout last summer and autumn, with a brief respite which was presumably due to the cold winter weather (maybe she locked him in a cupboard. Who knows?). Recently the Sunday afternoon scraps have begun again in earnest, with a noticeable escalation in tensions. Until yesterday afternoon I had been firmly on the side of Mrs Drop Dead Fred. In my own experience it's generally the female of the partnership on the placating, unhappy side of an abusive relationship. And before accusations of generalisation are levelled I'd like to point out that I'm qualified to expound on this theory. I grew up in an embittered, alcoholic household and I know what a short and often unrelated step it is from "shall we have beef this week then, dear?" to "you've never loved me have you, you heartless bitch". Battle lines are drawn up and, the more cheap wine/Saturday afternoon martinis/pints of Double Diamond (oh dear, is my seventies showing?) you add, the more firmly a position is held, regardless of its inherent ridiculousness. So, with this mindset firmly in place I've spent many an anxious afternoon listening to the screeching (he is known as Drop Dead Fred as it seems that the best thing the wife could get him for Christmas is her own demise), and wondering how I'd feel if I did nothing and he ended up battering her to death with her own fondue set. Until yesterday, that is. It had begun peaceably enough, by their standards. DDF was sitting on the patio, pouring endless glasses of white wine for himself and periodically flicking the v's at the living room window and bellowing "fuck off". At some point I looked out of the window to see Mrs DDF unlock the french doors and come lurching out onto the patio, drink in hand, like Mrs Overall on methadone. She proceeded to sit next to her loving husband, poking him variously in the ribs and face, and petulantly pushing his chair. I know this makes me sound like a mad stalking neighbour but I've been concerned for her safety on more than one occasion over the last year and, being a veteran of this sort of skirmish, I like to make sure things have calmed down before I can relax. So anyway, there they are, doing pushy-shove like five year olds and fervently expressing their desire that the other should, well, die. As far as invective goes it's far from imaginative but I'm guessing that it fits like an old slipper for them. Best stick with what you know, eh? At this point I'm beginning to realise that Mrs DDF may not be the victim I've been portraying her as, as she's at least as pissed as him if not more so. Things then took a turn for the ridiculous as they threw drinks at each other then sat, befuddled, realising that it was a stupid thing to do as they had no booze left. Mrs DDF then, with a last triumphant shove, attempted to salvage her dignity by wandering crab-like indoors, veering left like Norman Wisdom in a prevailing wind, and proceeded to ramp up the weirdness of the afternoon by posting pants and shorts through the living room window like a woman posessed. I presume this was in an effort to underline just exactly how unwelcome DDF was. In case the locked doors and the invitation to "die, you bastard" hadn't quite hammered that home.

So, to sum up. My neighbours are mentalists. I worry that one day they'll descend into a crazed, slashing frenzy fuelled by a disagreement over whether that bloke from Corrie has had a facelift or not. I just hope I don't have to hear it.

Bloody pensioners. It wasn't like this in the war you know.

6 Comments:

Blogger Donna chimed in with...

That makes me feel sooooo much better about the minor fracas me and 'im have ...

12 July, 2005 09:36  
Blogger surly girl chimed in with...

Well I hope I haven't given you any ideas. I'd hate to be responsible for Crash having his smalls posted through the living room window of a Sunday afternoon.....

12 July, 2005 09:41  
Blogger Crash chimed in with...

Don't you just hate people that fall out after drinking...

12 July, 2005 10:31  
Blogger surly girl chimed in with...

I fell out of a car after a lift home from the pub once. Does that count?

12 July, 2005 10:34  
Blogger Phil chimed in with...

If I had neighbours like that, I'd never get anything done. I waste enough time spying on the people in my street as it is, and they're the dullest people on earth. Give me something interesting to look at, and I'd be permanently glued to the living room window. I'd end up missing Trisha. It doesn't bear thinking about.

12 July, 2005 20:48  
Blogger Phil chimed in with...

Oh, and I love your smoking baby, Donna. Where did you get such a fine piece of object d'art?

12 July, 2005 20:50  

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