Neighbourly Unease

My neighbour is killing me!

Don’t get me wrong he is not a pathological killer or a mass murderer or anything like that but he is bending the law and generous spirit of those around him to breaking point.

We live in a small courtyard off a spur on a large rambling rabbit warren of shoddily (in my opinion), built George Wimpey homes (another story!).  Four homes surround this courtyard, three inhabited by young children who play out and mix very well together.  The fourth property, a badly designed flat lies above our four garages, the windows, instead of looking out of the back across the rolling hills of Dorset, open over the courtyard.  The incumbent tenant is middle aged and very much unattached.  He also works from home and there is not an ant that crosses the courtyard without his beady eyes picking it out and commenting on or to it.

Remember Hyacinth Bucket from Keeping up Appearances, she could learn a lot from my neighbour and his neighbourhood watching.   During the term time it is easier to suffer the continual interruptions and comments on how to bring up the children.  He being the expert; having fathered and brought up precisely, no children!

Now the summer holidays are upon us and the children have days stretching out in front of them to play and argue and learn their social skills.   What they do not want is some “Old Man”; a term I use hesitatingly, as he is not that much older than the parents of these children, commenting on their every movement.

They, in my mind have a right to grow up and learn by themselves.  I know my children are far from angels some of the time, but it is in a child’s nature to stretch the boundaries of truth and temptation to the limit.  I don’t want or need my neighbour explaining the ins and outs of the children’s arguments.  I want my child and his friends to learn by admitting the truth, discussing the consequences and agreeing together, which they are more than capable and happy to do.

I am lucky, having a husband, so the attention I get from our neighbour is tempered.  However another of our neighbours isn’t so lucky.  She is on her own and has a young son who is well looked after, well fed, very happy and neither of them suffer for lack of a man around.  No 1 son sometimes babysits while we have girlie nights out; we have a wonderful reciprocal arrangement not only on babysitting but feeding the animals whilst the other holidays.

Our neighbour pays special attention to her; his hearing acutely tuned to the tone of her car entering the estate.   He miraculously materialises as she turns the engine off, he hauntingly emerges from his door as she leaves her house and aggressively questions every visitor venturing past his windows; particularly male visitors.   The window cleaner makes a big thing of announcing his presence by doing ours first so he is allowed past.  The postman dashes through the courtyard so as not to be questioned on what he is delivering.    As for the recent plumber, who was interrogated as to what he thought was wrong and how to go about fixing it, I think he will not be returning in a hurry.

Once upon a lifetime, it was common practice for neighbours to just enter each other’s houses; but they were usually women popping in to check on something. They also had an open invitation.   We no longer live in that kind of open society and walking through the garden into someone’s kitchen without invite is pushing the bounds of neighbourliness to stalking, don’t you think?

Magnanimously, I could, almost accept this in the spirit of neighbourliness however, what I do object to is his business.   The four garages are each owned by the four houses within the courtyard.  He has the garage next to his front door and from there runs a business; industrial painting.      I don’t have a problem with people who work from home; many businesses particularly in the beauty or alternative medicine sector have their consulting rooms at home.  I myself write from home and in a previous existence ran a property management business from my home.   I would guess the, difference with all these are they do not inflict on people outside the house whereas painting does.

He opens up the garage and appears clad alien-like in a World War 2 gas mask for protection.  Wearing over large protective gloves to accentuate the need for safety, he takes out the spray gun.    Apart from the fact that my once dark blue car is now officially dappled blue, as we are unable to remove the specks of grey, white, gold and silver from the bodywork.  It is the smell of those pungent toxic fumes that I strongly object to.  He only needs to be out spraying for about 10 minutes before the tang of toxins pervade my home and my nostrils.  Maybe more than most, but I am directly downwind ; I react strongly to them suffering headaches, nausea and incredible muscle lethargy.

So, if this paint makes me feel so lousy, my neighbour feels the need to dress up in quite so much protection, is it safe to be spraying while there are children playing in the courtyard.   Personally I do not think that it is a safe industry to be carrying on in any residential area.

So what do I do?   He says he couldn’t afford rent on commercial premises?   If one of my children becomes ill he will not be able to afford the compensation or lawsuit either.    We have implicitly implied that it is not appropriate to work while the children are on holiday but he says he needs to work while the work is available.

I have looked up industrial paint on the internet to be told that once it dries it is safe.  As soon as the paint is dry he disperses the now newly painted and safe apparatus to his clients.  I seem to be fine with the dry paint.

I am in a quandary; I do not plan to spend six weeks with a headache, but also do not want to upset the delicate balance of tolerance we all enjoy.  Here’s hoping no new big orders come in!

Suggestions are welcome! Please.




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