Southerly by David Haywood

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Southerly: Everybody Needs Good Neighbours

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  • Kyle Matthews,

    "The dog didn't like that chair in your bedroom, dear, so I've moved it to the kitchen,"

    Clearly the woman didn't know dogs at all. My dogs will hump the furniture no matter where you leave it.

    Since Nov 2006 • 6243 posts Report Reply

  • Chopper,

    No bad neighbour stories myself, but I did have a flatmate once who turned out to be, well, somewhat unusual.

    He seemed perfectly normal when he moved in, but a couple of weeks later, he arrived home covered in mud claiming to have found Jesus and staying out on a rugby ground in the pouring rain for a couple of hours.

    A couple of mornings later, our female flatmate opened the front door at 5 in the morning after hearing knocks. Said flatmate was standing there. Naked. Covered in blood (apparently his own).

    When asked what had happened he said that he had been running into telegraph poles. We asked him if anyone had seen him, and he said that one woman had, but she had looked quite frightened so he hadn't stopped to talk to her.

    Over the next few days, things got progressively more weird (think seances and lighted candles in darkened rooms) until we decided to call in the mental health professionals who took him away. He was released a few months later and wanted to rejoin our flat, but by common agreement with the other flatmates, the flat was quickly disbanded and we found other places to live.

    Last I heard, he had reunited with his ex-girlfriend and got engaged.

    Since Jul 2008 • 19 posts Report Reply

  • Josh Addison,

    I only have one interesting story about neighbours, which I've written about elsewhere - why cut-n-paste the whole lot when I can cut-n-paste a link? Ah, the Internet.

    Onehunga, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 298 posts Report Reply

  • Mike Hollywood,

    A great piece of writing on seemingly innocuous subject matter ... thoroughly enjoyed. There’s another book there David.
    Me? In the past I’ve probably been more sinner than sinned against when it comes to neighbourhood relations but I can’t relate any stories anywhere near as interesting as those outlined in this piece. Nowadays I just keep my head down and try not to get too friendly with neighbours. Don’t want them getting too close tbh. I had a bit of a wake-up call a few years ago on the one occasion I did attend a particularly tedious neighbourhood gathering not long after moving to the area. Basically the elderly woman across the street was able to recount my daily routine (bus schedule, general movements etc) to me with some real accuracy and she appeared to know the names of our children despite the fact that I’d never spoken to her previously. I checked when I returned home and my partner had never spoken to her either. As the kids were infants at the time, it seems unlikely they had passed on that info. A bit spooked by that, and although she may well have just been indulging in nervous small talk it told me more about her than I really wanted to know. The level of detail was quite alarming and I’ve been very wary ever since. Even today, she seems to always find reason to loiter at the end of our driveway whenever I see her passing. What an infinitely interesting life we must lead. Now, if she only knew what really goes on *in the backyard* she’d have a book of her own ...

    Since May 2009 • 51 posts Report Reply

  • Deborah,

    2:44 is the Deb who was up sleepless!!

    Only 12.14am where I live. With a lovely neighbour, who knows absolutely everything that is going on in the street, which can be alternately very useful, and very, very annoying. Also, she prunes my roses for me when I am out. On balance, I think I'll miss her when we move at the end of the year.

    New Lynn • Since Nov 2006 • 1447 posts Report Reply

  • Tom Semmens,

    I caught the guy next door taking photos from his lounge window of my girlfriend as we waited on the veranda for a cab. When I asked him about this, he refused to talk to me, went inside his house, and called the police to report my car was illegally parked.

    Sevilla, Espana • Since Nov 2006 • 2217 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso,

    I'll admit myself to having been more the sinner than the sinned against, in all fairness. And in Wellington we've had fantastic neighbours, except for a couple of brief stints in the rental to the east of our current house. Not funny stories at all, unfortunately, both instances having to do with women being abused.

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7473 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole,

    My favourite noisy neighbours story came from a former flatmate. After enduring many nights of music blaring until the wee small hours, the neighbourhood got together and arranged to all put their stereo speakers out the windows pointed toward the offenders' house at 8 on a Sunday morning. Volume up loud. Funnily enough, the problem stopped.

    Auckland • Since Mar 2007 • 4097 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso,

    One of our neighbours in Italy banged energetically on our wall on a sunday morning a few times at around six with a similar intent of reprisal. We just turned over.

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7473 posts Report Reply

  • Martin Lindberg,

    Some years ago we were woken up at some late hour by America's A Horse with No Name being played at an incredible volume from the apartment below. Since I knew the guy enough to chat with every now and then I went downstairs and banged on his door. No reply, which was not surprising given that the door was probably vibrating more from the music than from my banging on it. I noticed that the door was unlocked so went inside to find the guy asleep on the couch with his headphones on. He got his first fright from me shaking him awake and his second one from taking off his headphones only to discover that the speakers were actually playing as well. I hate to think how his hearing is these days.

    I kinda still like America, though.

    Stockholm • Since Jul 2009 • 802 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso,

    He got his first fright from me shaking him awake and his second one from taking off his headphones only to discover that the speakers were actually playing as well.

    Hah, well yes. When I was a teenager once I was woken up in the middle of the night by Orff's Carmina Burana being played at fantastic volume. The culprit was my older sister, returning a little inhebriated from a night out, and she also hadn't realised the thing with the headphones. In the meantime, for a few seconds I entertained the possibility that I might have died.

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7473 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    I feel lucky, only having one bad neighbour story, and it amounting to no more than a standard-issue drug dealer ...

    For goodness sake, it's Auckland. We've had five neighbouring houses raided for drugs over the years, and we live in a cul de sac.

    The most spectacular one was the 6.30am raid across the road, when I opened the front door to find multiple police vehicles and a huge hazchem truck crowding in the thick morning fog. It was extremely surreal.

    They'd had a tip there was a P lab operating. My neighbour was extremely indignant about this, on the basis that he'd only been homebaking heroin.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22848 posts Report Reply

  • recordari,

    "lady friends" to visit, and would get in them in the mood by playing Shirley Bassey records at window-rattling volume.

    If you're going to write pieces of great hilarity, no need to amplify it with pure Freudian gold.

    Our worst neighbours ruined our first home, which was, we thought at the time, a real score of an apartment in a quiet Parnell street. At first we were pleased when the shift working nurses moved out, as the alarm going at 3am followed by 'wake-up' music was getting a little tiresome.

    Then along came the East-end Brothers. They liked hard house, had nice shiny skinheads, and partied until dawn. What clinched it was one night at 1am, feeling braver than usual, I went down stairs and politely asked them to STFU. Brother one seemed quite sedate for a change, but the bleeding cut on his head was a little off-putting. He said 'yeah sorry, just got back from the police cells after I head-butted one of me mates'.

    At this point I encouraged them to have a pleasant evening and returned to behind the deadlocked door.

    We sold the apartment soon after, and the real estate agent told us the young guy who bought it, after getting plastered one night and losing his keys, climbed in the bathroom window, fell head first into the bath, knocking himself unconscious, and slept the rest of the night where he lay.

    I'm sure the new neighbours got on like a house on fire.

    AUCKLAND • Since Dec 2009 • 2607 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole,

    They'd had a tip there was a P lab operating. My neighbour was extremely indignant about this, on the basis that he'd only been homebaking heroin.

    Well, really, are you surprised? Heroin's got nothing like the reputational problem of P. Were I inclined to make my own Class A narcotics, I'd probably also feel a little put-upon to be accused of producing a societal scourge in my kitchen.

    Auckland • Since Mar 2007 • 4097 posts Report Reply

  • Danielle,

    They'd had a tip there was a P lab operating. My neighbour was extremely indignant about this, on the basis that he'd only been homebaking heroin.

    I think I've told this story before, but a friend of ours got arrested for having marijuana in his car glove compartment and was also indignant because 'officer, it was shitty pot!'

    Charo World. Cuchi-cuchi!… • Since Nov 2006 • 3828 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Barnes,

    Hmm, I had a friend who pleaded guilty to possession of a small block of Hash, so they didn't test it and find it to be Opium. tee Hee. Mind you, they treat them both the same these days, I think.
    Which reminds me. The case of the shot farmer was mentioned on the news last night and the comment was made "Police are still not saying if it was drug related". Now this caused me to think. WTF does that mean?"
    Drug related could mean...
    the offender did not taken his medication,
    Or, taken too much medication,
    Smoked some pot,
    Was trying to get to the chemist because he had a headache
    Was trying to buy Drugs
    was trying to sell drugs
    Yeah, Drugs are bad Mmm K?

    Peria • Since Dec 2006 • 5521 posts Report Reply

  • Chris Bell,

    The "x, of course y" formula is priceless and could transform many a substandard story - especially any where the plot doesn't quite hang together (i.e. any written by me) - after all, y needn't result in death, creating infinite possibilities.

    In fact, foresee a novel based on it...

    OK, thanks. See you much later.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 49 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    For the sake of property values, I feel I should point out that, to my knowledge, there are presently no houses in our street where drugs are being sold or manufactured. Not since the guy who thought he was being spied on moved out.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22848 posts Report Reply

  • Mike Hollywood,

    @ Steve Barnes – or option z) had long refused local growers access to his property and eventually suffered the consequences. Taking that a step further, he may have made the obvious counter threat at some point and eventually paid the price for having too much info.

    That’s the first thing that occurred to me when reports of vandalism and other mayhem (over the course of time) started to come out.

    Since May 2009 • 51 posts Report Reply

  • Aidan,

    the short chap with the collection of Boer war rifles in the garage who had the place in front of us in Ashhurst

    Ashurst! My my ... small world. I'm a Palmy boy but had friends and family in Ashurst.

    Bad neighbour ... my (then) girlfriend (now wife) had nice neighbours, who unfortunately forgot to turn off their alarm clock before going on holiday ... for two weeks. There was a shared (locked) door between the two places, so the noise was unbearable, day and night, BEEEEP BEEEEP BEEEEP, drove her friggin' batty. I thought to turn off the electricity to their place, which gave us temporary respite, but the alarm came right back on again as soon as we flicked the switch. We didn't think it was kosher to leave it off, nasty for fridges/freezers etc.

    In the end I did what chivalry demanded, I broke into their place and turned it off.

    They moved out a while later and a nice Tongan couple moved in. Not long after we were woken at 5am by the sound of metal rods being hammered into the back lawn and were sporadically disturbed for the next 3 hours by the noises made when spit-roasting a pig (mostly conversation about how the cooking was going).

    We had some interesting neighbours at our current place (now moved on thank god). A couple with two kids. She was the laziest piece of work I have ever seen, never stopped yelling at the kids but wouldn't get up to help the little buggers. It was like she thought they were voice-controlled toys. The classic was when she yelled "Jaaaydin .... JAAY-DIN ... STOP STANDING STILL!".

    Canberra, Australia • Since Feb 2007 • 154 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    They moved out a while later and a nice Tongan couple moved in. Not long after we were woken at 5am by the sound of metal rods being hammered into the back lawn and were sporadically disturbed for the next 3 hours by the noises made when spit-roasting a pig (mostly conversation about how the cooking was going).

    This would be totally acceptable as long as a decent amount of pig was presented to you. Yum.

    Since Nov 2006 • 6243 posts Report Reply

  • Robyn Gallagher,

    My favourite neighbours from my old flat in Mt Eden.

    The couple of on the left

    An incredibly good-looking Christian married couple, who rowed all the time. Once the husband accused the wife of hiding his hat, based on her previously commenting that she didn't like it. He demanded to know where she's hidden it, threatening to break an ornament if she didn't tell him. He counted to 10, she didn't tell him, he smashed the ornament. She sighed and said, "I can't believe you did that." They later moved to a cheap South Auckland suburb.

    Another time he wanted to organise a Christian music festival. He enthusiastically told her of his plans for the bands, and that food and drink could be provided by a hotdog truck and an espresso cart. She made supportive noises, but never quite told him what he obviously wanted to hear, that it was a great idea.

    The couple on the right

    Rooters. They rooted almost every day. I'd know they were rooting because they'd either play loud music for 10-15 minutes, or if it was later at night, I'd hear the bed slamming against the wall. Doof, doof, doof, doof, doof, doof, doof, doof.

    Then one moring, the guy asked the girl to marry him. He said, "[Rootette], you are my life; be my wife. Will you marry me?" This happened just outside my bedroom window. I managed to not lol.

    Raglan • Since Nov 2006 • 1946 posts Report Reply

  • Aidan,

    This would be totally acceptable as long as a decent amount of pig was presented to you. Yum.

    My thoughts exactly ... I think they took it to their church for a slap-up feed. We didn't even get to nibble a trotter .... *sniff*

    A mate of mind lived in a squat in London for a few months. One of his fellow squatters was quite literally mad, fried his brain with drugs. My mate was woken up one night by the most god-awful banging and crashing, went downstairs to find the mad bloke panting and sweating in the kitchen, having just completely demolished the toaster with a 2x4. The toaster was possessed by the devil apparently .. and had been looking at him in a strange way. I don't think my mate stayed there much longer.

    Canberra, Australia • Since Feb 2007 • 154 posts Report Reply

  • octopusgrrl,

    Bad neighbour ... my (then) girlfriend (now wife) had nice neighbours, who unfortunately forgot to turn off their alarm clock before going on holiday ... for two weeks. There was a shared (locked) door between the two places, so the noise was unbearable, day and night, BEEEEP BEEEEP BEEEEP, drove her friggin' batty. I thought to turn off the electricity to their place, which gave us temporary respite, but the alarm came right back on again as soon as we flicked the switch. We didn't think it was kosher to leave it off, nasty for fridges/freezers etc.

    OMG, we had something like that with our mysterious Australian neighbour, except in this case it was his smoke detector that ran out of batteries the day after he left to go home for two weeks - a high-pitched BI-BIIP every minute, day and night. Seriously started to have mad thoughts of destroying it via telepathy, breaking into his place, drilling through the wall etc.

    Now that one was weird. Perfectly nice guy, seemed normal enough, but quiet. Too quiet. I mean, we shared a wall and all we ever heard from him was his key in the door to get in at night and the soft click of the latch pulling to. Not a floorboard creak (in a 100-year-old villa, I would have imagined this was impossible until he managed it), no television noise, no cupboards or doors shutting, nothing. No one ever visited and we rarely saw him outside except in passing when he was on his way to whatever he did as a career. We decided in the end that he was actually a spy committing top-sekrit but incredibly silent actions against NZ.

    But BEST. NEIGHBOUR. EVA!

    Dunedin • Since May 2009 • 33 posts Report Reply

  • Cecelia,

    David - a fabulous coffee-snorting, cackle-inducing read.

    We have had neighbours who completely ignored us (because we're old?) and noisy neighbours - but we've always had at least one who would feed our cat and vice versa. Cats and kids can bring neighbours together.

    Hibiscus Coast • Since Apr 2008 • 559 posts Report Reply

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