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Today is the 30th anniversary of me becoming a resident of Bexley which I am
using as an excuse for self-indulgence. No one forces you to read this. 😊
Before Bexley home was Leyton (then administratively part of Essex) for six years. Farnborough (Hampshire) for nine. Fleet (also in Hampshire) for eight, Aldershot three years and Fleet for another 15. Then Plumstead for three which was more than long enough for me.
It’s an uncomfortable thought given the struggle that young people have these days to get on the housing ladder that I paid £69,000 for a three bedroomed detached house with a mortgage of £31,000. Mine was the most expensive three bedroomed detached on the pretentiously named Priory Gardens opposite Lesnes Abbey because it was on the biggest plot of land. I was lucky because the prices went up by £5,000 the day after I signed the contract and all my neighbours missed the deadline.
Only snobs and estate agents still use the name Priory Gardens.
It was a toss up between Bromley and Bexley which both had at the time very nearly the cheapest Rates (Council Tax) in London. I backed the wrong horse because Bexley’s Council Tax is not far off being dearest in London now and the price of houses in Bromley has appreciated twice as fast.
For all that it hasn’t been such a bad move although I suspect I would have moved away when I retired from BT if it was not for the old lady in East Ham. I think she is going to outlive me!
For the first nineteen years no one on my side of the road moved away so it was like a friendly little family, then one house was sold to a man who lives in Lagos who is apparently content to see - but not often - his investment go into decline. Leaking gutters, water tank overflowing non-stop for years, literally, and fences that blew away two years ago and not replaced. Neither owner nor tenant has trimmed the hedge or cut the front lawn even once in all that time so the responsibility falls to me. In fact no one but I have trimmed the hedge in all those 30 years.
I’m not too bothered by it as it’s more important to maintain good relationships but having no rear fences is an annoying security risk.
Despite the absentee landlord it has been a pleasant little community and over the years I have replaced other people’s gutters, installed a kitchen - all the difficult bits anyway - been up on a neighbour’s roof rigging a TV aerial, repaired a central heating boiler more times than I remember and not always been paid for the spare parts.
I’ve helped move conservatories and moved sheds and taken down at least four dangerous trees in neighbouring gardens. I gave up on two of them and hired a professional when it was obvious my neighbour couldn’t afford to do so. I even dug the hole into which went some recently deceased ashes. Maybe I am seen as an easy touch.
I could go on far longer and maybe one day I will compile a comprehensive list but a year ago everything went wrong.
It began when someone asked me if I had watched the latest series of Game of Thrones and I replied that I had and found it disappointing compared to earlier series. I nearly lost an eye!
A finger jabbed vigorously towards my face while its owner screamed “I have told you before not to give the plot away”. Maybe he had but I didn’t give anything away and if he was that worried why risk asking the question in the first place?
I put it to the back of my mind and hoped it was a one off and assumed relations had gone back to normal a week later when I was called round to attend to a plumbing problem that was stopping water draining away in the wet room. I found the broken drain component, managed to extract it, get a replacement and fit it the same afternoon.
But things weren’t back to normal. Another week went by and with a visitor in the house I had the same neighbour ranting at my front door that while washing down my front drive I had splashed water on his precious car!
29 years of repairing a water pipe with a nail driven into it, a gas pipe severed by a hack saw, fixing under floor heating that had been wired up all wrong and a power socket accidently ripped from the wall plus countless Windows reinstalls (to name just a few examples) all counted for nothing.
I have been blanked for the past 50 weeks - for splashing a car. But look on the bright side, I have saved an awful lot of time!
But this week the final irony after the rant for car splashing.
A contractor arrived on site to jet wash the finger jabber’s drive and it sent mud flying everywhere, even right across the road on to other people’s cars.
End of Day 1.
End of Day 2.
the contractor left the scene he knocked on my door offering to jet wash my drive too. I said I would rather
do it myself and drew his attention to my mud spattered wall and the filthy pavements.
The contractor readily agreed to sweep up before leaving. Unfortunately his efforts made very little difference. The area around the gully was much improved but my wall and the adjacent footpath were not obviously different at all.
Tomorrow I am going to have to wash it all and try not to splash any cars!
Can contractors be fined for fly tipping mud?