Tuesday, 21 September 2010

More Neighbourly Love

The village was located in an area of Outstanding Natural Beauty - that's to say the area that it was situated in was outstandingly beautiful and not the people who lived in it. I came to understand that people who live in these places want to preserve it at all costs, not because of any altruistic love of nature but because it kept the price of their property ridiculously inflated.

The biggest attraction to the village was the Heath, now fully owned and under the so-called protection of the National Trust. On the borders of the Heath were a few very large rambling properties. The two end houses were owned by the son (and subsequently brother) of a peer - the other by an extremely kind conscientious doctor and his eccentric wife. The eccentric wife kept geese, a number of cats and bees; the peers brother kept piles of rubbish.

The peers brother and the eccentric wife hated each other with a passion; they hadn't always hated each other but one day a goose was found run over on the path leading to the peers brothers house and although he didn't admit to committing the crime his answer to the rather direct question "You bastard have you killed my goose?" was open to interpretation "I honked my horn and I couldn't see if it had moved."

The National Trust were responsible for maintaining the private road that led to these two houses - which meant that they were never repaired. The two neighbours bickered about everything else so it came as no surprise that they could not agree upon who was responsible for maintaining each section of the road. Of the four houses on the road two were happy to get a contractor in and split the cost between them but the other half were not. The peers brother decided to take matters into his own hands and one afternoon arrived home with a couple of buckets full of builders rubble to fill the pot holes in with. He spent the next day filling in every pot-hole on the road, much to his chagrin he had to include the potholes in front of the doctors house because it was before his own. The eccentric wife watched him from the window on the upstairs landing, occasionally throwing it open to hurl abuse at him. He studiously ignored her, but was spotted a couple of times shaking his fist at her and muttering "Crazy old witch."

Imagine his anger the next morning, when he took his car out of the drive and drove up the road, only to find the stretch outside his neighbours home was full of potholes once again. Smiling at her garden gate stood the eccentric wife, her waist length gray fluttering in the morning breeze, the builders rubble neatly placed in two piles at her feet.
"What the hell is going on here?" Spluttered the peers brother.
"I like my pot-holes, they serve as speed bumps when idiots who can't see geese drive like maniacs past my house."

This battle went on every six months for the 10 years that we lived in the village.