Southerly by David Haywood

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Southerly: Everybody Needs Good Neighbours

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  • Deborah,

    Above: A neighbour is brought to justice.

    Priceless.

    Brilliant writing, David. We both laffed and laffed.

    "Interesting" neighbour stories... not so many to hand, really. Certainly nothing to match your stories. There was the chap with some odd tomato plants, up 70 steps in Wellington, and the short chap with the collection of Boer war rifles in the garage who had the place in front of us in Ashhurst, but that's about it. Are you sure that it's not something about you, rather than your neighbours?

    New Lynn • Since Nov 2006 • 1447 posts Report Reply

  • Lea Barker,

    Jeez, Haywood.Are you trying to get me fired? You are so, sooo funny. Never again will I read your column at work!

    Oakland, CA • Since Nov 2006 • 45 posts Report Reply

  • Ross Mason,

    It's your glasses mate. Or maybe you should try different underarm deodorant. And you complain about the ridiculous things that people do at ridiculous hours of the night. So what is posting at 2:44AM? The neighbours must be annoyed sleepless by the incessant key stroking.

    a canicidal maniac as a neighbour

    Woof woof!

    Edit: HA! Not that late. 2:44 is the Deb who was up sleepless!!

    Upper Hutt • Since Jun 2007 • 1590 posts Report Reply

  • Rob Hosking,

    My relations with all my neighbours have been entirely cordial -- right up to the point where they were arrested, or when they contracted a life-threatening disease from a duck that I'd allegedly "encouraged",

    Right, that's the last time I read a Hayward piece while drinking tea. Straight down the nostrils.

    South Roseneath • Since Nov 2006 • 830 posts Report Reply

  • dc_red,

    I feel lucky, only having one bad neighbour story, and it amounting to no more than a standard-issue drug dealer - steroids, I'd guess, given the size of the gorillas who frequented the place (no, I never saw their tongues) - eventually raided in the middle of the night by the cops. We presumed he'd been dobbed in by his ex-girlfriend, "Barbie", who had left amid a raging argument, and a custody dispute over a doberman, several weeks' prior.

    His $600k house then sat vacant for a year, in the possession of a decidedly dodgy realtor, who had the power disconnected and then tried to "borrow" ours to do the vacuuming, without asking, via a long extension cord.

    Now a neighbour with enthusiasm for odd tomato plants is one I could appreciate.

    Oil Patch, Alberta • Since Nov 2006 • 706 posts Report Reply

  • David Haywood,

    Glad that this piece has provided a little mirth on a wet Thursday...

    Rob Hosking wrote:

    Right, that's the last time I read a Hayward [sic] piece while drinking tea. Straight down the nostrils.

    Oh, you can laugh, Hosking, but I still feel indignant every time I think of this incident. I only wish I'd thought of something clever to say, such as: "don't be so fucking stupid", instead of standing there in mute astonishment.

    It made it terribly awkward to feed the ducks, as I then had to avoid times when my neighbour (from about 75 metres down the road) wouldn't be walking past. And when you can't feed ducks whenever you like then there's not much enjoyment left in life, is there?

    Dunsandel • Since Nov 2006 • 1156 posts Report Reply

  • Leigh Kennaway,

    It was with some trepidation, therefore, that we moved into our current house, which shares a boundary with six other properties.

    Good god man - do you not learn from your past?!?!?!

    sunny Pt Chevalier • Since Mar 2008 • 40 posts Report Reply

  • Grace Dalley,

    <splutter>

    Soap operas have *nothing* on you, David. Thanks for the wonderful stories! I'm sure they weren't in the least bit funny to experience, but you're making all of us mirthfully inhale our hot drinks.

    I must admit to being in suspense about the fate of the partly-buried dog, though. Was it so awful that you're tactfully not saying?

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2008 • 138 posts Report Reply

  • Grace Dalley,

    And sorry but I can't help posting this.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2008 • 138 posts Report Reply

  • Megan Wegan,

    David! I now have a Neighbours theme tune earworm. And I blame you.

    Welly • Since Jul 2008 • 1275 posts Report Reply

  • Grace Dalley,

    Just leave Javellina and Trevalynne out of it!

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2008 • 138 posts Report Reply

  • Danielle,

    PAS is the absolute worst (or best) source of earworms. I've never belonged to a forum which gives me so many. I'm not sure what that says.

    I was going to ask how one 'encourages' a duck to give someone a life-threatening disease, but I see further down the page that it was the feeding. I don't know, I have a feeling that if there's a duck out there with that kind of homicidal rage, a few crusts of bread might tend to divert it instead. I think you were doing the neighbour a favour, David. You were sadly unappreciated.

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

  • BenWilson,

    I recently "encouraged" some ducks that had chanced to land in my back yard, so as to keep my kids amused. I fed them and they returned every day. I soon discovered why people might have a problem with it. They shit everywhere. My entire backyard, all the pathways, the back steps, my back deck, soon had shit all over them. Then I couldn't get rid of them, and they became more and more insistent, entering the house and shitting, if I chanced to leave my door open. Finally I'd had enough, and chased them off with a broom, yelling loudly. It took about 10 minutes of this for them to get the message. Having scared them off, I look up to see my neighbor peeping at me over the fence, phone in hand. I guess you don't often see you neighbors running around with a broom screaming their head off. It probably seemed a bit nuts.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10657 posts Report Reply

  • octopusgrrl,

    *facepalm* Wow, you've really had your share of "characters", haven't you?

    We've had a dearth of interesting neighbour experiences since we moved South (apart from the teenage gatecrash party which closed the street, and the jazz-singing alcoholic) but the most memorable from our half-villa in Mt Eden was the middle-aged Canadian and his faa'afafine (and much younger) partner - lovely people during the day, but at night the tarps would come out, the music would come on, teenage friends would arrive and the dancing would start. Weeknights. Until 2am. After a few nights of this, I was starting to lose it from sleep-dep so the gorgeous throng was met with the sight of a near-sighted craze-haired woman in a tatty dressing gown almost in tears pleading with them to turn the music down. They were very polite and did so immediately, but I could hear the peals of laughter as I returned to my bed.

    In Tauranga we had a very friendly young couple across the courtyard. We were actually quite surprised when the bloke told us he was one of the Filthy Few and "don't worry about your place, mate, we've got an eye on it" (!) Seemed to work because we never had a break-in despite being in a dubious area. And he was awfully forgiving when we "let ourselves in" to his place to feed his new puppy Diefer (yup) which was going completely apeshit when they left him home alone.

    Then there was the guy in the flat at the back of our villa in Grafton who would listen to AM radio loudly until 3:30am when his wife would arrive home from her night-shift. We really wanted to say something to him about it, but he was a big scary-looking guy who might have had a stroke or something as he couldn't speak clearly and even when we said hello to him in passing he seemed to not understand very well. So I invested in some earplugs, slept through the alarm a few times and suffered through it for a few more months until the landlord attempted to move into our living room - but that's a whole 'nother story...

    Dunedin • Since May 2009 • 33 posts Report Reply

  • David Haywood,

    BenWilson wrote:

    I soon discovered why people might have a problem with it. They shit everywhere.

    I should've mentioned that the ducks I was feeding were in the Avon. The neighbour's family had suffered a nasty bout of 'flu, which they blamed on the ducks -- and, by extension, which they blamed on me for not allowing the ducks to starve to death in the cold winter of 1995.

    octopusgrrl wrote:

    After a few nights of this, I was starting to lose it from sleep-dep so the gorgeous throng was met with the sight of a near-sighted craze-haired woman in a tatty dressing gown almost in tears pleading with them to turn the music down.

    I've only once had the nerve to complain to a neighbour, and that was the ones who accused me of dobbing them into CYFS (which I suspect was the basis for their suspicions). They were burning wet wood (I think) on the fire, we had a baby of only a few weeks old, and the smoke inside our house was so bad that it kept setting off our smoke alarms (usually just when Bob had dropped off for one of his rare naps). I thought that I was very polite, but they didn't seem too pleased.

    ... until the landlord attempted to move into our living room...

    Now that really sounds like a story that should be shared.

    Dunsandel • Since Nov 2006 • 1156 posts Report Reply

  • JackElder,

    I've had a few dodgy neighbours. Probably the worst was the lady next door when we bought our first house. She was, basically, exact what the average Daily Mail reader thought of when they heard the words "council tenant" - completely illiterate (yes, really: she used to have her children read things to her), somewhere between five and six children (it was hard to tell, depending on which of the social services had them in care at any given point), her primary means of contraception seemed to be incarceration (her children coincided roughly with her releases from prison on various minor charges).

    They would do things like knock on the door five times a night to use the phone, attempt to borrow money, steal our garden gnome and then put it in front of their house (I did a 5am raid to get it back - we still have that gnome), burn furniture in the back garden... At the time, my wife was working on her PhD thesis, mostly at home, and this was all very stressful. If we'd been renting, we'd have been out pretty sharpish; as we owned the place, we had to stay put and endure it.

    The whole saga came to a head when she was evicted by the council, shortly after accusing us of dobbing her into social services (not us; after she accused us, we were kicking ourselves that we hadn't thought to do it) with the result that all her children had been again taken into custody (by this time, she had another one on the way anyway), and about the time that my wife was appearing as a witness for the prosecution in my neighbour's fraud case. When she disappeared, she gave the keys to her house to the local yoofs, who duly had a party and trashed it. Interesting times.

    But that's north Cambridge for you: Kings Hedges posse, represent innit.

    Wellington • Since Mar 2008 • 708 posts Report Reply

  • dc_red,

    ... until the landlord attempted to move into our living room...
    Now that really sounds like a story that should be shared.

    I second that! Only the best stories begin with "Everything was going quite well ... until the landlord tried to move in!"

    Oil Patch, Alberta • Since Nov 2006 • 706 posts Report Reply

  • Donald Reid,

    Despite also living in countless residences, I have generally missed out on the bad neighbour experience, perhaps by virtue of never having lived in Christchurch (is it really so bad? it certainly sounds so - but why are its advocates so staunch?). However I have to admit to being a bad neighbour on a few occasions, of which, now, I'm terribly shameful. Mostly just being in flats with loud idiots where none of us had to get up in the morning and a willful, youthful ignorance of anyone who did (seriously, to those people, I'm so sorry).

    I remember one particular night in Auckland many years ago when we all took acid and after many attempts to (politely) tell us to shut up, our neighbour started to get aggressive, poking my flatmate in the chest and asking if he "was looking for some shit?!" Of course, when you're 23 and on acid that's the funniest line anyone could say...

    Jeez I feel bad.

    Dunedin, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 17 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Barnes,

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

    We have a dog like that.

    Peria • Since Dec 2006 • 5521 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    I've never had any bad neighbors. I credit some of that to not seeming too approachable. My general feeling towards them is always that I'm happy to wave, anything more than that and I'm suddenly a bit busy. I can see that having nice neighbors could be worth the effort of getting to know them, but there's the chance of them becoming a pain, and then you're stuck with the buggers. It's one of the best things about living in a city, that you can ignore you neighbors and hang out with the people you actually like instead.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10657 posts Report Reply

  • Dave Patrick,

    The only bad neighbours I've suffered were the ones downstairs in a flat in London, who would come home from clubbing at about 2 or 3 in the morning and play Divine.

    LOUD.

    And on repeat.

    Until about 5 in the morning.

    Bearable in the weekend, but when I had to be up to go to work, it got a bit tedious.

    So one weekend at about 8, when they'd been particularly loud and prolonged, I hooked up the flat stereo in my bedroom (which I think was above one of theirs), laid the speakers down flat on the floor, and played Dead Kennedys, UK Subs, GBH and Violent Femmes at them for an hour or so.

    Divine still got played, but at a much more bearable level (as in background noise levels), and next time I bumped in to them outside the flat, they were all smiles - they got the point, and didn't mind too much the retaliation.

    Rangiora, Te Wai Pounamu • Since Nov 2006 • 261 posts Report Reply

  • octopusgrrl,

    ... until the landlord attempted to move into our living room...
    Now that really sounds like a story that should be shared.
    I second that! Only the best stories begin with "Everything was going quite well ... until the landlord tried to move in!"

    Oh well, if you insist... ;) We rented our part of the villa through a letting agent, but one evening the actual owner of the house rang us at home saying that he's just broken up with his wife and had to move out of his family home, so he would need to move in to the flat "probably just for a couple of weeks". Being young and probably very stoned, we agreed, then spent the rest of the night trying to work out how we could partition off part of the enormous loungeroom space for our impromptu guest. In the rational light of the next morning, one or both of us thought "nahhhh, he can't do that, can he?" and rang the letting agent who agreed with us and was understandably appalled. We never heard from the man again and moved out shortly after (the house only had a bath, the only hot water supply was a Zip unit and the logistics of actually filling the bath - twice - each day started to get us down).

    Dunedin • Since May 2009 • 33 posts Report Reply

  • Philip Challinor,

    There's a bulgy young female downstairs who bangs on my door every few months to accuse me, at sufficient length and volume for a thoroughly unmoderated Australian comments facility, of failing to flush the communal lavatory. The reason for her suspicion, I once heard her bellowing to her lucky next-door neighbour (I am two flights up), is that she banged on my door a couple of times before and I didn't answer. The last time I was indiscreet enough to open the door to her she was a bit more conciliatory, but seemed to think that even if I wasn't the lavatorial culprit, I ought to find out who was. Not being a private detective or nice, I shut the door while she was still giving orders.

    Most of the time I enjoy living here on the top floor, but she's the sort of neighbour whose mortal remains I'd quite like to have seeping through my ceiling.

    London, England • Since Sep 2009 • 52 posts Report Reply

  • octopusgrrl,

    The only bad neighbours I've suffered were the ones downstairs in a flat in London, who would come home from clubbing at about 2 or 3 in the morning and play Divine.

    LOUD.

    And on repeat.

    Until about 5 in the morning.

    I'll see you, and match you a "Love Over Gold" with brokenhearted crooning at top volume (ie. three doors down but loud enough to keep the whole street awake) from 1am to noise-control-o'clock :P Even now, fifteen years later, the first few chords of "Telegraph Road" still make me come over all jittery.

    Dunedin • Since May 2009 • 33 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart,

    I'll see you, and match you a "Love Over Gold" with brokenhearted crooning at top volume (ie. three doors down but loud enough to keep the whole street awake) from 1am to noise-control-o'clock

    Sinead fucking O'Connor, "Nothing Compares to You", and broken-hearted crooning constantly from the next-door Halls room. I still hate that song with a passion.

    I've never had any spectacularly interesting actual neighbours, though. Missionaries neighbours, yes. And once we had the most spectacularly wonderful neighbours ever, with whom we are still friends ten years on.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4651 posts Report Reply

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