Wednesday, 11 August 2010

Neighbourly Love


The trouble with fences is that they don't last forever and when they start to crumble they need to be replaced; it happens (with montonous regularity) that the new fence isn't placed in exactly the same place as the old one - giving the person replacing it an extra few inches of land, until the fence needs replacing again....

And so began the dispute between one very large land owner and one not so large owner. Mr. Small replaced a fence in one of his fields but in doing so inadvertently misplaced the boundary - Mr. Larges son spotted the mistake and took it upon himself to rectify it. He chose not to do this under cover of darkness, so was seen by a number of people but only one stopped to talk to him. The village post-mistress out walking her dogs (again!) saw him, passed the time of day and then wondered off, the conversation forgotten, or so she thought.

A few weeks later she was attending a dinner party, Mr and Mrs Large were also there. During the course of the evening Mrs. Large suggested, well more than suggested, that the post-mistress had been in contact with Mr Small - the post-mistress could barely remember the incident, she had no idea who Mr. Small was (he didn't live in the village at that time) so she corrected Mrs. Large. It seemed that Mr. Small was going to seek redress through official channels - Mr. Large accepted that his son was in the wrong and offered to replace the fence, along the correct boundary this time, but Mr. Small was not a man to be trifled with, he was a man wronged and his outrage knew no bounds!

Whilst Mr. Large was a friendly and reasonable man, Mrs. Large was a lady with time and money on her hands. Over the course of the next 3 years everyone in the village became involved, evidence was collected, statements were taken, photographs were produced, maps drawn up, legal fees mounted.

Of course during the 3 years life also carried on - Mr Larges son got married and bought a little house in the village, the house was next door but one to the house Mr. Small let out to tenants and it backed onto the field Mr. Small owned. With the mounting legal costs Mr. Small was forced to sell his home, give his tenants notice and move into the village - into the house next door but one to Mr. Larges son, backing onto the field he owned.

Eventually Mr Small and Mr Large faced each other in Court and despite the best lawyers that money could buy Mr Large lost the case and in doing so was forced to pay Mr Smalls legal costs. Mr. Small was very excited he had struck a blow for small people!

Not long after the dispute was finally over some horses in Mr. Smalls field mysteriously kicked down a boundary fence and trampled into Mr. Larges sons garden - it came as no surprise to anyone that the damage they caused amounted to roughly the same as Mr. Smalls legal costs and a bit more.

5 comments:

  1. Any neighbour or neighbour's wife who is too silly to knock on a door and say 'we have problem, how can we fix it?' deserves to be ripped off by lawyers, and usually is. A cautionary tale indeed!

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  2. If we look into the details...the incident would be far from funny...

    But looking at the large picture we realise how trifle the whole situation was!!!

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  3. Stafford - this really was a case of wounded pride and self-importance getting the better of them. The only winners in all of these cases is the lawyer.

    Jon - I agree the whole affair was ridiculous and that it dragged on and on and on was a lesson to us all. Bury the hatchet, swallow your pride - save the lawyers fees!

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  4. Wasn't it Robert Frost who said, "good fences make good neighbors"? I liked what you wrote Madame.

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  5. A great story, able to help almost any normal person feel distinctly superior. I suppose disputes seldom begin at the point we start to take notice, and so the earlier accident might have been assumed deliberate.

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