Sunday, 28 July 2013

I knew the best-friends-forever thing was too good to be true.

Things the neighbours are at war about this time around, as far as I can tell:

- cleaning the communal hallway. Again. Which, look, cleaning the communal hallway is a basic duty of communal living, it's stated in everyone's deeds and lease agreements, it's not like it's a new thing. But it was still a touchy enough subject to set off the Great House Meeting of 2011, which will forever live in history for lines such as "it never looked like it needed doing when it was our turn," "don't you tell me when to clean my own home!" and "we couldn't do the cleaning because we didn't understand how the rota worked."

(The rota was really not complicated. We offered to redo the rota to make it 'easier to understand' after that meeting, and then literally couldn't work out any way of doing that - it listed the month of the year next to which flat's turn it was to do the cleaning that month, and that was it. So we reprinted it in a slightly bigger font and underlined 'Rota', and everyone thanked us and said they'd definitely know when to take their turns cleaning now.)

This time around everyone is at least agreeing with the principle of having to take turns cleaning the hall, so that's a big improvement. But there are growing suspicions that people are signing the rota without having done all, or any, of the cleaning. Also one neighbour told another neighbour that they missed living in their last place because there was a woman in her 80s living there who "just loved to clean, so we left it all up to her!" I would love to her the 80-year-old woman's version of that.

- blocking off bits of communal garden nearest your bedroom window for your sole personal use. Or, if you're in the other camp: demanding access to bits of the garden near someone else's bedroom window for weird and nefarious purposes.

- noise levels of 4-year-old. Or inadequate discipline of 4-year-old, if you're in the more extreme wing. Because why bother with the more practical suggestions like the kid not wearing shoes inside, or the parents maybe investing in some carpet for their wall-to-wall laminate floors, when you could turn it into a referendum on someone else's parenting? That's bound to go down well!

- communal garden, upkeep of. This is the new Hallway Cleaning Rota War.

- whether or not it is unfair that Flat A does not have a storage shed on its own plot of land, like Flats B and C do, and like Flat A used to before a previous owner sold it off. I am kind of baffled by this one - I mean, either they bought the flat under the belief that it did own land, in which case take it up with the lawyers, or they bought the flat knowing that it didn't, in which case, what do you think complaining to the neighbours is going to do? Anyway, latest I hear is that Flats A and D both agree this is totally unfair, and Flat B's shed and plot should be reassigned to Flat A since A's occupants own and B's only rent. Yeah, good luck with that.

- whether or not it's reasonable to leave a barbecue in the communal bit of the garden.

- whether or not Flat D's occupants, who both work from home, are actually doing any work at all because it looks very like they're just sitting there all day drinking wine and they could at least put some work in on the garden if they're going to be using it all the time. Corollary: whether Flat D's occupants' careers count as 'proper jobs'.

- everything they have ever fought about in the past, even though it's long since settled and over.

And the frustrating thing is, it is totally possible to sort out something with the garden upkeep, the issue that kicked all this off, in the same way that we eventually got somewhere with the communal hallway cleaning. But we cannot have a conversation about that, because the neighbours are incapable of having a conversation about specific thing X without it turning into a conversation about everything else. 4-year-old neighbour is possibly the most mature of the lot.

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