„She’s doing it again Fred, come and have a look“ and Frieda Black was quite excited.
“Who’s doing what” answered Fred and went over to the window where his wife was looking out through the binoculars.
“The neighbour in the ground level apartment, she’s digging up the garden again and we know what that means.”
“Show me Frieda” and now Fred was getting interested “planting another bush or tree to spoil the view from our window. If only Mrs. Goodall would hold herself to the rules and regulations where we live, it would make life a lot more enjoyable for us all” and Frieda nodded in approval – the word “all” applying to only the Blacks of course.
Fred and Frieda Black found that if you buy your own apartment you should still ask the neighbours for their permission before doing something different. After all the front gardens should all look alike, each one with a nicely kept lawn and not with bushes and trees in between like the Goodalls always seem to be planting. Why they even have two hazelnut trees growing in the garden, apart from the walnut tree in the big pot. It just does not fit into the organised pattern of the estate. Basically most of the neighbours found Mrs. Goodall’s garden admittedly something different, but not a disturbing feature and some neighbours even found her taste quite good. Only the Blacks were not satisfied.
Mrs. Pamela Goodall was happy with her garden. In Spring the bushes were flowering and throughout the Summer they attracted all sorts of wild insect life. The butterfly bushes were a colourful contrast for all to see; after all they were not called butterfly bushes for no reason. There were at least four different sorts of flying beauties searching for their nectar on the flowers. Pamela actually had no suspicion that she was being observed constantly when she was in the garden by her neighbours on the top floor. There were six apartments in the house and Pamela and her husband, Michael, never had a problem with any of the other neighbours. Even the Blacks never let any suspicion fall that they found Pamela’s garden improvements were not approved of, they preferred to keep it a secret for the time being.
Mr. Black was a retired insurance man and was used to having things in organised patterns in his life. He had trained his wife to think the same, and if Fred Black did not notice that things were not going to his plan, his wife quickly brought him up to date. It was Mrs. Black that was talking to one of the neighbours and heard that this particular neighbour now had a special machine attched her water supply for the reduction of the lime in the water. Mrs. Black found she should have known this before the neighbour organised it. Mr. Black made further investigations and found that already three neighbours had this machine and he was not informed. That was a problem and was one of the items on the list for the next meeting of the owners of the apartments. After all before the neighbours organised something Mr. Black should be asked. Fred Black found that this lime removal machine would only work properly if attached to the washing machines in the cellar as well. Actually this did not really matter, but gave him a reason to have it discussed with the other neighbours. Perhaps he could even ensure that these machines would be forbidden. He knew nothing about them, his wife found it out by chance, and that could not be. Only on the approval of the Blacks should anything be fitted into the homes.
He had also made sure that Mrs. Goodall’s garden would be discussed. Mr. and Mrs. Black also had disciples in the estate, Mr. and Mrs. Grey. They found that what Mr. Black said was always good, and so Mr. and Mrs. Grey always nodded in approval at their suggestions just to keep on their good side.
It was now two weeks before the annual meeting and the list of things to be discussed was sent to all the owners of the apartments. When Mr. Goodall saw that his wife’s garden was on the list he was furious. First of all he found his wife had perhaps gone a little bit too far with her agricultural creations, but on the other hand when he read about the objection to the lime removal machines made by the Blacks, he transferred his anger to the Black family. It was then quite clear to him that they were being observed most of the time.
“What do you propose to do with your garden now” Michael Goodall asked his wife.
“Well, Michael I must say this whole thing has become a bit of a shock. We have been living here almost ten years and I started my gardening scheme eight years ago. When the good Mrs. Black had told me that it was not in line with the estate I would naturally not have done anything, although I must admit I have had so much pleasure from the garden. Now I suppose I just have to dig everything up to suit their taste.”
“Let’s not handle without a fight, dear” said Michael. “What annoys me is that the Blacks are now starting to tell us and others what to have in their own four walls and what not. I would say we wait for the meeting and see what happens.”
“You know Michael, the nicest time we spend living here is when the Blacks are away in their holiday house in Spain. Then everyone seems to be able to live in peace with everyone else.”
The evening meeting soon arrived and all the apartment owners met for their discussions. The chairman was a neutral person who looked after the finance concerning the communal arrangements, such as the gardening of the surroundings, the finance of the heating and water which was shared by all. It was to be a long meeting starting at seven in the evening and only at ten in the evening did the subject of the gardens come onto the agenda.
Mr. Black opened the discussion and stated that the gardens should all be alike but there were some people that just went against the rule.
“Let us say it clearly Mr. Black” Michael Goodall spoke up. “Do you mean my wife and me in particular” and then the argument started.
Eventually Mr. Black decided there should be a commission formed for approval of the gardens. The chairman called for the vote but Mr. and Mrs. Grey were the only people that agreed, all others were too tired and found it so trivial they turned it down. The debate concerning the acceptance of a suitable lime removal appliance according to the wishes of the Blacks (and naturally the Greys as well) was also declined. Mr. Black was particularly disappointed in this respect as one of the other neighbours had told Mr. Black he would also support Mr. Black in this respect, but had changed his mind at the last moment. The remarks uttered by Mr. Black to this neighbour are here not to be repeated. It suffices to say that Mr. Black found yet another neighbour who was not on his side.
Unfortunately Pamela Goodall could not attend the meeting to the end as she had to go to work the next day. Her husband was already in retirement and so he told his wife of the decisions made.
One evening late the Goodalls were standing outside in the garden. They had got used to looking at the garden late in the evening to make sure they were not being observed.
“Well what do you think, Michael? What shall I do with my garden now.”
“Pamela it seems that only the Blacks are really against it, so I would say just carry on. I noticed you have dug two rather large holes in the garden. That seemed to be the reason for Black’s disapproval. What do you actually want to plant in them?.
“Well you know Michael, I though an apple tree would be quite suitable, the problem being that you really need two apple trees for a good harvest”
and then the Goodalls heard someone shout down at them from the window above “before anything more is planted in that jungle we have something to say” and Mr. Black was shouting from the window. Pamela and Michael were glad it was late in the evening and that the other neighbours were not around to hear.
Suddenly Mr. and Mrs. Black appeared in the Goodall’s garden and an argument broke out.
“What did I hear. You are planning to plant two apple trees. Over my dead body said Fred. Black.”
“And over mine as well” said Frieda Black.
“Did you hear what they said” said Michael.
“Only too well” answered Pamela and so the argument went on.
This argument did clear the air. It seemed that the Blacks left for their house in Spain shortly afterwards and Pamela and Michael planted their apple trees. Actually they had a lot of success with the trees and a fantastic harvest every year.
The Black problem looked like it had been resolved and the Blacks were never to be seen again at the estate, everyone assuming they were in their holiday home in Spain.
Of course Pamela and Michael did have a couple of problems. Cleaning the blood stains off the shovels was one, but eventually they decided to thrown the shovels in the near by river and buy something new. Of course they were proud of their wonderful apple trees which seemed to grow stronger year by year. Pamela was often asked what she used for fertiliser to make them grow so well.
Pictures to Words - Segments Week 6: The Neighbours