“A good neighbour is one who smiles at you over the fence, but doesn’t climb over it.”
When we moved into our current house, almost eight years ago now, an elderly lady from the village knocked on my door and handed me a fruit cake by way of a welcome to the area. An extremely kind thought and an auspicious start to our life in the country but, sadly for us, the welcome was shortlived. A week later, I phoned my nearest neighbour to introduce ourselves.
“Hi, it’s Grace here, just moved in next door.” Silence. “Hello?”. Bit more silence. “Hello?” Finally, he responded: “Well I’ll say straight off that we like our privacy. How much did you pay for your house?” I was so flustered at such a blatantly invasive question that I actually told him! That set the (very low) benchmark for our relationship for the next few years during which time he has only ever spoken to us via his solicitor, but he has: chucked dog poo over the fence into our garden, parked a huge white van in front of one of our windows, reported us to the council for watering our garden during a hosepipe ban (OK hands up, but even so…), blown his autumnal leaves over onto our flowerbeds, and erected very high cheap fencing which ruined one of our views. Last December my Son made an executive decision to teach said neighbour a lesson, and sculpted an absolutely huge willy (complete with rather finely sculptured bol**cks) out of snow just outside his electric gates – so we had to remind our teenager that it was a bad idea to taunt our neighbour by stooping to his appalling low standards. Last week, neighbour rang me completely out of the blue and very politely asked to meet with us to discuss boundaries. Despitemy reservations as to his dubious motives, for the first time in many years I actually feel relaxed living next door to him, not quite in harmony, but at least we are finally speaking.
How to be a good neighbour
1. Mow your overgrown lawn and keep your fences fixed
2. Keep your dog quiet – a pain free bark collar will do the trick
3. Park in front of your own house
4. Invite your neighbours to your party – or give them fair warning
5. Slow down when driving past their house – don’t want to run their cat over
6. Turn your stereo down