Neighbours from hell, what I have learnt

By Nina Steele 

In my work for an old people’s charity, many of the calls we receive whenever someone is in need of support, come from neighbours. This has opened my eyes to the role that neighbours play in the lives of old people, and as a childless couple, I realise the crucial role that a neighbour may come to play in our own life one day.

As we all know, there are good and bad neighbours and we had our fair share of the latter when we first moved into our current house. One of the neighbours, a few doors down, who has lived in the area for many years, warned me as soon as we moved in, about the neighbour living next door to us. Apparently, he was trouble and had had arguments with a few people on the street.

My husband and I made the decision to give him the benefit of the doubt and apart from a tired looking van that was parked in his drive, we could not see what the fuss was all about. What we noticed however, was that he liked to keep himself for himself and wouldn’t even say hello at first.

As an introvert himself, my husband could identify with him and so we came to the conclusion that he was a misunderstood single and childless man, on a street full of families.

When the same neighbour who warned me, came to complain to me about some old furniture that he suspected our neighbour had dumped on the path leading up to the garages, I acted straight away. I knocked on his door and he immediately admitted to being the culprit and promised to take everything away to the dump that day and he did.

After that, we started warming up to him and whenever I saw him, we would acknowledge one another. When we decided to replace the fence that was there with a taller fence, I went to see him and he invited me into his house. That is when I learned that he had sold the house to his female lodger and was soon moving abroad to start a new life.

I learned a lot about him that day, including the fact that he was desperate to find love and had become quite bitter about being single. After our conversation, I made a point of being nice to him. Unfortunately, he took a shine to me and I would often catch him staring at me from his garage. Once, I caught him looking at me with such intensity that I instantly knew that I had to keep my distant.

He soon noticed a change in my behaviour toward him and all hell broke loose. He started a campaign of harassment that lasted for about 6 months. He would play loud music until late at night and he and a friend, who visited him fairly regularly, would say the rudest things (too rude for me to repeat) whenever I was in our garden.

I took action. The new owner would not allow us to replace the existing fence (that side of the fence was hers by law) and so we put up a whole new 6 foot fence next to it, which meant that he could no longer watch me from the garage. Once the fence was up, we felt some peace, even though the loud music continued. We were both relieved when he eventually moved abroad.

Even with such a bad experience under our belt, I do understand the importance of getting on with neighbours, whenever possible. We don’t have to invite each other over for dinner, but just being on friendly terms is enough. Who knows what the future holds? One day, that relationship could prove very useful, and my work with old people has shown me how.


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