Thursday, April 16, 2015

A neighbourly memoir

When we lived in the salubrious and leafy eastern suburbs of Melbourne on the Alamein railway line, our neighbours were ever so middle class. A few doors down the Italian couple grew vegetables in the back yard and tried to sell them to neighbours at exorbitant prices. Their neighbours were all of Anglo stock, and so never complained, just did not go back.

Apparently our dog Wee Jessie, a Westie, barked non stop in the back yard when we were away. We did not know but eventually we asked our neighbour why their son was throwing sand over the fence. 'At your Wee Jessie to stop her barking', was the reply. I think this was when were leaving after being there for a couple of years. Too late to mention her barking now. They were a nice enough couple, but the two sons both had quite a number of medical issues. The kids would be in their thirties now. The neighbours names were Geoff and Janet. I called them Brad and Janet. Three points to you if you get that, and they well suited the roles.

On the other side of was a another married middle class couple. He was quite normal and their daughter worked at the Red Back Brewery in North Melbourne. I wonder if that is still there. Their dog occasionally appeared in our yard and we returned him. He would dig under the fence. He was big and boisterous. I suppose I had met her, but one day I returned the  dog. Lee answered the door with glasses perched on her nose and a book in one hand and a cigarette in the other, difficult to open a door like that I think, and just said thanks when I steered their dog inside and shut the door on me. Ken, her husband apologised about the dog later.

Behind us lived an old man, severely stooped over, almost a hunch back. We would often see him on his way to and from the local Ashburton shops, shopping jeep in tow. He was quite old and obviously self sufficient. About once a month he must have bought a bottle of spirits and got horribly drunk. These were large blocks of land and his house was decent way from ours, but we could hear him yelling and ranting to himself. Our neighbours told us not to worry about him, but oh, the noise was horrendous. What was in his mind? I seem to recall some of his yelling was about his late wife but his words mostly made no sense.

Yep, that's it. Just a memory.

21 comments:

  1. Interesting that memories about life in a house include anecdotes about dogs. I have only lived in a house for a short period in my life; the overwhelming bulk of which has been spent in apartments. When I did move to a house for the one and only time in my life I had difficulty sleeping initially because of the sounds of dogs barking in the night. It is not a sound I experience in apartment life.

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    1. Victor, I remember you telling us that. We at times hear the faint sound of a dog in the distance. Mother can no longer stand quiet when she sleeps, such as at Sister's. It doesn't disturb me, but the birds in the morning do.

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  2. A memory nicely remembered

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  3. Damn it, Janet, I love you! Ohhhh Braaaaaaad. Now who, in the neighbourhood, played the fabulous Doctor? I may have seen it a time or 50, lol.
    One of our neighbours, whom we call 'Beagle Boy' keeps, you guessed it, beagles. Lots of beagles. They bark day and night; I keep threatening to go to a sporting goods store, to the hunting section, and buy some bobcat urine, then dump it over their housing.
    That will start them baying.
    He'll let them bark incessantly but baying apparently disturbs his sleep, so he'll stop that.... Wonder how many 'doses' it will take to make my point?

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    1. Quick of the mark, Jac. Barking dogs are almost tolerable during the day, but never at night. Wee Jess from that point on had to stay inside when we were at work. Interesting about the bobcat urine and baying. Give it shot.

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  4. Rocky Horror.
    My neighbors dump all kinds of crap in my backyard. They say it's their property. ??

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    1. Very good Susie. How odd about your neighbours. Do you chuck it back?

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  5. There was a time when everybody knew the neighbours in the houses on either side, and in the houses across the road. One lady did the baby sitting, one bloke let the children watch his tv, another lady made cupcakes and shared them around.

    Now we are all lucky if we even know their names :(

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    1. Hels, while we have had some really good neighbours over the years in different places, I think we know more people in this building than when we were in free standing houses.

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  6. Memories indeed mostly of dogs and a drunk. You are lucky to have known of your neighbours back then. We have neighbours and only know each side ones, and another across the road -- probably a good way to be. We each keep an eye out for each others houses etc.
    No barking dogs thank goodness, not that I hear anyway, and people do have them close by.

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    1. WA, probably a good way to be? Maybe a good way to be? Maybe a good way is to be proactive with neighbours and embrace them more. We have received much kindness over the years from neighbours. We have done the same, but now, it all seems like to much bother.

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  7. Brad and Janet, ha ha. I love that movie.
    Quite a memory you have there.
    I have iffy neighbours too. Word around right now is to be careful locking up because one of the druggie neighbours is in trouble with his supplier, owing around $800. The supplier came looking for him, so I've heard. But can I believe the story?

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    1. River, maybe the story is true, maybe not. You can't ignore such a thing, but you should never let your life be ruled by such a thing. I am sure you and Angel are quite safe.

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  8. Brad and Janet? Points for me. Which is rare, because I seem to have missed most movies.
    Love your memories of the neighbours. As a child we lived next to a woman who used to wear a heavy bandage around her ankle when she had a headache (often). Why? So people would ask what was wrong. Which makes a peverse kind of sense.

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    1. EC, attention seeking behaviour? People ignored her wails about her headaches?

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    2. She was seriously strange. People, including her family, tried to avoid her. Always dressed in black. Muttered to herself. Lived on cornflakes and a 'little bit skim milk'. She would take her garbage down to the shops each day - to keep the garbage bin at home clean. With the benefit of hindsight I think a lot of things. At the time all us kids were sure she was a witch.

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  9. The true stories of Melbourne house husbands...
    The suburbs can be quite strange I think, especially in America. We've pretty much always liked our neighbours. A new family just bought the house next door to renovate. They are a lovely family, he's a builder so should do a great job of it. Also very hot so that's our summer viewing sorted out.

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    1. Craig, I can only hope it is a hot summer so your new neighbour needs to wear minimal clothing as he works up a sweat while renovating. Older gay men are easily pleased.

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  10. Poor old man out the back. :(

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    1. Fen, I don't know if he was lonely. He seemed very self sufficient and not inclined to engage. Who knows what his real story was, but I am sure it was interesting.

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