Seven reasons why neighbours should never be friends
PUBLISHED: 09:38 03 August 2019 | UPDATED: 09:22 04 August 2019
Jamie Honeywood Archant Norwich Norfolk
Neighbours, everybody needs good neighbours...
Complete claptrap. What everybody needs is quiet neighbours.
You know the sort: the ones who "keep themselves to themselves". They might be budding serial killers, with human organs in pickle jars under the bed, but I'm happy with that if they're quiet.
I would not want Sharon Tidnam for a neighbour.
I'm sure that she is a lovely person, but she has kennels, which means dogs, which means barking. It's what they do - and they seem to have a talent for finding the pitch that stimulates the brain's irritation gland.
They certainly got into the skull of Mrs Tidnam's barrister neighbour Matthew McNiff - hence this week's £96,000 court bill for breaching an order to halt noise nuisance.
It begs the question of which is worse to have for a neighbour - dogs or a barrister?
The moral of this story is one that everyone needs to act upon, as we nearly all have neighbours and are neighbours - do not interact with the people who just happen to live next door.
These people are a thin wall or a wobbly fence away, but if "good neighbours become good friends" you're asking for trouble.
The proper form for next-door relations is a slight nod when you put out the bins. If you must converse, here is a guide for those moments when your eyes meet between the trellis gaps:
You: "Alright, how's it going?"
Them: "Not too bad."
You: "Have a good un."
Them: "Cheers, you too."
With occasional aberrations when I sing Pearl Jam while cooking chilli on a Saturday morning, I am a quiet neighbour. For all those next door know, I could be stuffing animals and having self-generated duologues with Mother. If I am, it's my business.
There is so much potential for Next-door War to break out. Here are just a few of the things that get my goat about neighbours (though not my current ones, I hasten to add):
1. Pettiness over parking
When you buy or rent a home, you do not take ownership of the bit of road outside it. If you put out cones, I'll lob them into your garden and park in "your" space.
2. Loud arguments
If you are in a relationship or have children, can I recommend the silent treatment as a way to resolve conflict? I've heard too many gory details, cruel insults and dirty secrets reverberating through my bedroom wall.
They seem to have no respect for territory, and are almost certainly Satan's demons in feline disguise. They poo in my garden, then saunter snootily away as if they've just excreted a Faberge egg.
The wind is bound by Sod's Law to blow the smoke over my washing as it hangs on the line. With the smoke comes the smell - but not the food. I'll give my reluctant blessing to a barbie - but only if I get a heads-up to put the washing in, and a sausage.
5. Burglar lights
If the sensors are slightly out of line, when you go into your own garden of an evening to take the air you are dazzled by the neighbour's burglar light. It feels like you've be spotted trying to escape from Colditz - and you sustain long-term retinal damage into the bargain.
These are spy devices, pure and simple. Children are briefed to gather information, then spend the afternoon boinging up and down to look over the fence and report back. A Pennywise the Clown mask should see them off - and traumatise them for a couple of years.
7. Tall plants
I have loppers and will use them. We get little enough sunshine, so if a neighbour steals some of it, they should be prepared for some guerrilla pruning.
In essence, real life is not The Good Life, so always treat your neighbours with cautious suspicion.