Discover more from Dark Secrets
The Art of Petty Revenge: Tales of Neighborly Retribution and Sweet Satisfaction
Neighborhood Chronicles: Unveiling the Petty Feuds and Ingenious Retaliations in the Quest for Neighborly Justice
Blue Rinse Dragons Part I
(Not one the actual old ladies but close, just imagine blue hair)
When I left college, just moving back in with my folks didn’t seem like the thing to do, but my girlfriend and I didn't feel ready to get a place, even though we practically lived together. So I found a flat to rent close to where she lived. It was a nice area with four in block, post-war council houses with generous gardens. Most had been bought by the tenants and as a result were well maintained by the owners: quiet, leafy suburbia.
The flat in question was leased to me by a middle-aged couple who had bought their elderly mother’s council house hoping to make a killing flipping it when she died. Granny it would seem, helped them by apparently smoking herself to death shortly afterwards but left them with a slight problem – they couldn’t sell the place so soon after buying it due to some loophole in the ‘buy your council flat’ scheme. Old puffin’ grandma had also ensured the interiors were yellower than northern social club toilet. The décor was horrendous too. Lurid swirly carpets – and I do mean carpets plural as I soon discovered when I decided to sand the floors. I lifted three carpets all on top of each other in the hall. It would seem each time more carpet was laid down they simply shimmed off the bottom of the door, so with bare floors I could virtually limbo under the gap between door and floor. But my new landlords kindly said if I wanted to strip out all the granny crap and redecorate they would pay for it – splendid!
The only blot on the horizon were the two chintzy, blue rinsed old dragons that lived next door. They had been there for decades so their normality must have been shattered by the death of their neighbour who’d lived there for donkey's years. I was sensitive to this so was as friendly and courteous as could be, but it wasn’t long before the barbed remarks began.
One day I was in the back garden stripping 40 years of layered paint and nicotine off the doors - I had taken them off the hinges and removed the nasty plywood panels people were so keen on in the ’50s. Obviously this would meet with firm disapproval from my ever watchful neighbour, so it was no real surprise when from the corner of my eye I caught a garish splash of floral polyester. They had a habit of appearing stealthily like some incontinent ninja brigade. They were standing silently, side by side, like a horribly shrivelled version of the twins from The Shining. A few pleasantries were exchanged – then it came…
“So you don’t work do you?”
“Well no, I’ve just finished an honours degree and I am looking for a job in my field but there is a pretty major recession on.”
This was back in the early ’90s - it might not be the global crisis we're in now but the UK was seriously goosed back then, nevertheless I was immediately assigned as ‘workshy’.
Nevertheless I continued to be cheery, cleared the overgrown gardens, lifted the hallucinogenic carpets, sanded the floors and decorated the place from top to bottom - whilst also applying for jobs, you know - workshy. During which time they closely monitored my EVERY move. If I went into the back garden they would instantly appear, set up deck chairs, plonk themselves down and knit with sustained and intense fury – never once taking their beady little eyes off me. It started raining lightly one day so they simply moved the deckchairs into their tiny shed – left the door open and continued their surveillance.
If I went out they were there at the window. Even if I returned in the dead of night with marshmallows strapped to my feet, in an instant they were twitching at the curtains like little crumpled lavender-fuelled rockets.
Eventually I found a job. So they quickly turned their attentions to my relationship with my girlfriend.
“So you’re not married ARE YOU?” they chimed in unison with their powdery bunched-up little faces.
The curtain twitching would go into a frenzy any time my girlfriend arrived. It was a warm summer so I’d often have the barbecue on the go of an evening. But as soon as I lit the damn thing the same routine would begin: they would make a huge deal out of slamming all their windows shut then rush out to take in their washing, tutting and muttering. I should point out their washing was about 40 feet away down their side of the garden and well up-wind from my tiny barbeque.
At this point they were still pretending to be civil towards us but this was clearly just a ploy to pump us for more information. On one occasion we went away for the weekend and when we got back, there they were to ‘greet’ us.
“Oh hello” (little matching saccharine smiles) “been away have we?”
“Yes nice weekend in a wee hotel up north” (more scrunched up faces)
“Did you leave in a hurry?”
“In a hurry - on Friday? It’s just we noticed you didn’t do your dishes”
The nosey old bats had been in my back garden peering through my kitchen window!
“We don’t see much of her (my girlfriend) during the week do we?”
My girlfriend worked away a lot during the week but in this I spotted an opportunity for mischief…
“Yes well she spends the weekends with me but during the week she lives with her husband… and the kids, nice bloke. Black fella.”
As they recoiled with eyes like saucers I casually left it at that.
Then one day they made some comment about me hanging out laundry. From what I could gather they had certain days for washing and somehow expected me to adhere to their bizarre ritual. This and the constant prying about my girlfriend gave me an idea.
The following day I waited till they toddled off to wherever the public hanging was that day. Then I hung my washing out, sat in the garden, lit the barbecue, opened a beer and waited for their return. I even took my shirt off for good measure. It was at that point I really wished I had some tattoos. Soon enough I heard their respective front doors slam, counted to 5 and turned around - sure enough there they were peering out their windows intently. Apparently they couldn’t get a close enough look from there so out came the deckchairs.
They sat in complete silence staring at the spectacle of my laundry billowing in the summer breeze. Next to my usual array of jeans and shirts I had hung some of my girlfriend's laundry items. With considerable skill I had carefully pegged one of her prettiest laciest bras to the line. Then below the bra with some clever use of pegs hung a matching suspender belt which in turn supported a tiny wispy little pair of panties and of course a pair of sheer lacy-topped black stockings that waved lazily in the breeze, like a very thin lady running in slow motion.
“Hello ladies, lovely day!” I waved cheerily.
If they could have pursed their little faces up any more they’d have turned them inside out. Vicious old bats.
From there, things escalated considerably.
Blue Rinse Dragons Part II
The wispy apparition of the Lingerie Lady of the Line obviously represented a sort of lace-trimmed gauntlet to the old bats. Stalls had been set out, battle lines drawn. This first became evident when they started to mow further and further into my half of the lawn. The old biddies were quite literally cutting my grass. They always conspired together, frantically rushing around the garden in tartan slippers, always at dusk - one mowing, one cable bashing. I’m not a petty man; well I am actually so clearly this was going to escalate.
The garden had a white slatted fence about 6 feet high at the division point of the properties, but this barely extended onto the back lawn – 20 feet at most - whereas the lawn stretched a good 50 or more feet into the distance. To make matters worse my side was an end terrace so I had another large garden area and parking for three cars at the side of my place. They had no such luxury, so this was probably another issue of hot contention for them, even though neither of them had cars.
The wonky line that veered further and further into my lawn, now twice a week during the height of summer, was really getting on my nerves. Then plastic bottles filled with water started appearing everywhere. I had to ask – to which I was informed with the sort of air of confidence in such matters only David Attenborough should have access to…
‘The bottles keep YOUR cats out of our garden’
‘Their reflection, it scares them off”
“Does it really? How ingenious!”
I said this while casually observing over her shoulder my tortoiseshell moggie Chloe. She was lying on her back below their rose bushes in a distinctly louche manner, lazily prodding one of the ‘scarecat’ plastic bottles. I had also at one stage witnessed one of the old trouts propping up a few house bricks against the rickety old stick and wire fence at the far end of the garden. It was only about two and a half feet high and had gaps everywhere. On enquiry I was informed (incredulously, as though I was an utter cretin):
“It keeps cats out – cats are too lazy to climb fences”
But it was the lawn thing that really pissed on my pizza. So one Saturday morning, courtesy of HSS Hire, the sort of ubermower that Wimbledon groundskeepers have pictures of taped inside their lockers arrived on a trailer. One very noisy hour later the lawn looked like a pinstripe Savile Row suit beautifully tailored in lurid green. They scowled furiously at me but for once were rendered speechless.
I knew however the wine from this sweet victory would soon run dry. So the following weekend they were in for another little surprise.
If you ever need to put up a fence really fast - then I suggest you check out these things that just spike straight in to the ground with a heavy hammer EasyGrip Post Spike 100 x 100 x 600mm
When the bloke arrived from B&Q to deliver my order I got him to leave the posts, 16-pound sledgehammer, fence panels, clips and other fence related paraphernalia stacked up ominously in the back garden. Then I went out for a beer.
By the time I came back they were out on the deckchairs perched on the vehemently disputed border, knitting - knitting long polymer strands of pure black clicking hatred. An empty crisp packet blew across the garden like tumbleweed. A lone crow mocked the scene from its gallery on the rooftops. I stubbed my cigarette onto the lawn, dead on the borderline. Grinding it in with my foot I squinted into the sunlight, and snarled...
“Can't hang around ladies, things to do.”
Whang – the first metal spike pierced the lawn and plunged into the soft black loam like a javelin through a poorly coordinated Olympic official. It was like pushing candles into a birthday cake. A few taps on the wooden post with the sledgehammer, couple of clips here and there, and lo! The first birch lap, pressure-treated panel was up. At 6 foot it was considerably taller than me, and these old bints were struggling to hit 5 foot in two pairs of support hose. And there it was, a magnificent all-seeing Pagan monolith draping its cold malevolent shadow deep into their chintzy territory.
It’s fair to say at this point they went absolutely vein-popping batshit mental. Literally running in and out of their flats, shouting insults from upper windows. Complete chaos.
‘You can’t do that, this is private property’ one shrieked.
‘Yes it is, and this half is mine' I smiled sweetly.
‘You don’t own it; I’m phoning Mrs Cantremeberhername (my landlady).’
‘No need, I have in writing from her that she approves of the fence; would you care to see?'.
‘You need planning permission’
‘I don’t – it’s classed a temporary structure, and is less than 7 feet in height, therefore I don’t need permission from anyone except the landowner – which I have’
‘It’s on the wrong boundary’
‘Not according to this copy of the deeds (flip, flap, unfold) – care to see? In fact I’m sorry to be the one to tell you but that part of the end of the garden is also actually mine – right up to the back fence’
She was apoplectic by this point – the bit at the bottom of the garden was her favourite spot for deckchair surveillance as it looked into my living room.
Then her son arrived.
‘Tell him Malcolm, TELL HIM’
I calmly explained the situation to the clearly long-suffering bloke. He apologised and gave me his number in case I needed it. Then smiled weakly as he tried to assure his raging mother it was not a police matter and I was not deliberately destroying the value of her property. So I continued to put the remaining line of fence panels up at an impressive rate each one driving them 6 feet further along the garden to complain. By this time the mad old witch had to be physically held back by her son. Then the other old bint who had been quieter up till now suddenly opened her upper window and suddenly screamed…
‘You’re not even married it’s disgusting’
‘Why don’t we elope?' I beamed. 'Blue hair really does it for me?'
As the last panel went up I stood back and took stock. It was a nice fence. Not an old biddy to be seen. Just as I was about to pop another beer I heard a clattering from the mad old boot’s surveillance shed. There, perched on rickety old wooden stepladders, craning and wobbling awkwardly around the last panel, I saw a frazzled mop of blue hair attached to an alarmingly purple face glaring round the end of the fence – she was so far down the garden I struggled at first to see which poisonous harridan was there screeching the now immortal line...
‘I can still SEE you you know! I can still SEE….’
I can only assume at that point the ramifications of a person of advancing years clambering onto an antique step ladder suddenly became distinctly apparent to the old boot.
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