Neighbour disputes

Neighbour disputes, bread and butter work for impoverished solicitors – see here for ridiculous examples

I’ve never had a neighbour dispute in the 27 years that I have owned a property, mainly because of my lacksidaisical (one of my mothers favourite words) devil-may-care, abandonment of care where things neighbourly are concerned.

We currently have two great neighbours, good enough neighbours to want to stay in this house although I must admit that “hello” every morning is sufficient for me, I don’t want to go into great detail of our and their lives over the garden fence every day, nor do I want to invite myself into their kitchen for a coffee every morning, if I walk down my driveway and one of the neighbours is in their driveway I will issue a “hello” and then get on with my life – but they are nice people.

I even had one of them ask me this year if I would mind if they had one of their large conifer trees pruned, its quite a nice tree, a christmas tree tree rather than a leylandi, but its in their garden by a good ten feet at least, its none of my business whether or not they cut it down and burn it on a bonfire, but they asked if I’d mind anyway – thats nice isn’t it ?

Of course I said I would sue them if they laid one finger on it and so it still stands today, but thats another story.

It wasn’t always like this though, it wasn’t always a peaceful Eden in the young Jerrychicken household for when I was a child and lived at my parents house, we had Stan Laurel as a neighbour.

Ned and I always called him Stan Laurel because, well, because he looked like Stan Laurel, and still does, I don’t even know what his proper name was/is – its just Stan Laurel.

He even used to wear a brown bib and brace combo like Stan Laurel did in that film where he and Ollie are working in a sawmill, the one where they saw their car in half, yes that one, picture Stan Laurel in that film and you have our old next door neighbour, to a tee.

Our Stan Laurel was deaf, properly deaf, could only speak with sign language which no-one else understood nor cared to try and understand, so maybe that was a cause for frustration from him, but Stan Laurel was also an idle bugger.

It was Stan Laurel’s bungalow that had a whole window frame fall out of its location on the bedroom wall, simply because he couldn’t be arsed painting it for fifteen years – in the early 1960s when he bought the bungalow from new the builder had left all of the external woodwork in its pink primer ready for the purchaser to paint it in his/her choice of colour. Stan Laurel obviously thought the pink primer was a lovely colour and so left it like that and fifteen years later his rotted window frames just fell out of the wall when he slammed them shut too hard.

When the builder had sold the bungalows to each person in the street they had not laid any gardens, you simply got a back garden that was loosely marked with 3×3 fence posts and a thin rail on top, the garden itself being just left as was, the bungalows were built on what had been a birch wood so the topsoil was thin and of coarse grass and we had two or three birch trees at the bottom of each garden.

Over the years the other neighbours, my dad included, had lifted the coarse woodland grass and replaced it with fine lawns, planted flower beds, got our Uncle Sid to come around and landscape it with concrete slabs and a plot of potatoes, a lovely garden we had and lots of fresh potatoes too.

And to the right, just on the other side of those fence posts, was the wilderness.

Stan Laurel couldn’t be arsed to paint his window frames – do you really think that he’d be arsed to dig his garden ?

No of course not, and so over a twenty year period we battled to keep his weeds and grass on his side of the fence by means of copious amounts of weedkiller thrown over his fence or, in the school holidays when the adults were all at work, by us kids liberally sprinkling paraffin over the fence and setting fire to it – if Stan Laurel ever looked out of his window and wondered why his garden was all brown down the side that neighboured our garden then he never mentioned anything to us, truth is he barely ever looked out of his windows even when they were still located in the correct window holes in his house.

And then one day, probably about ten years after we had moved into the bungalow, with ten years of undergrowth battling to get into our garden from his side, our dad decided that he would erect a proper solid fence down the garden so that we wouldn’t have to gaze upon the rolling plains of Serengeti grasslands next door – he sent me out into the garden with a sledgehammer and some posts and instructed me to start marking the line of the new fence while he finished watching the football on telly with Keith Macklin.

Keith Macklin was the commentator by the way, he wasn’t round at our house watching with our dad, just so you know.

I’d only managed to stick two posts in the ground and I was exhausted, so I went back in the house to tell our dad that I’d had enough and it was my turn to watch football on the telly, he grumbled a lot and then went into his bedroom to put his “gardening pants” on and returned in tears of laughter.

Stan Laurel was out in his wilderness with a tape measure, measuring the position of the two posts that I’d stuck carelessly into the ground – we stood in silence hiding around the corner of our garage as we watched him remove one of the posts from the ground and reposition it at least one inch further into our garden than where I’d put it – he then measured the same width all the way up the garden and marked with stones where the next set of posts should be – then he went back inside his house.

And that was the total sum of all the gardening that he did in the twenty years that I lived in that house.

He was quite happy enough to let us put a new fence up without volunteering to pay for half of it, or even help in its erection, as long as it didn’t encroach upon his wilderness – it might have looked like a big piece of abandoned land, but it was his big piece of abandoned land, every inch of it.

And then his pink primer garage doors started to fall off too.


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