Wednesday, 5 November 2008

Close encounters

Two days ago I had my first direct encounter with the Family-from-Hell. Fortunately I was not alone, or it would have been war.

I had met the Allotment Officer as I was going into the allotments. She was going to see Franco (whose surname, I was delighted to discover, is Virgilio), who was complaining about the state of the track and the rubbish he's suddenly discovered he has after the fence-makers moved it all in order to build their fence. Afterwards, she came down to the Cat Allotment in order to have another look at the fence.

We had wandered down towards the fence and had a peep across it into the Family-from-Hell's garden, and I'd pointed out the hearth there, which must be 10 ft across and is surrounded by stones.

We were wandering back up the garden, deep in conversation, when we heard a voice behind us shouting "Oi! What do you think you're looking at?"

We turned around and saw an irate-looking woman of about 27 with horribly dyed hair (bottle blonde with a streak of pure black). She continued to harangue us for a few minutes about looking in her garden. She was evidently very suspicious of us, and probably feeling guilty about having stolen my wood and was trying to cover it up. It was quite frightening for me because I had never spoken to her before or done anything wrong apart from look over the fence, yet she had already decided to victimise me. But I kept quiet and let the Allotment Officer speak.

She was very tactful, and said, "We're not looking in your garden. I'm the Allotment Officer, and I've come to look at this allotment." We turned away from her, and heard her say, to get the last word in, "Well, don't go looking in my garden!"

I was very shaken, and it is frightening to think she might come out again and start haranguing me while I'm there alone, especially now that I seem to be the only person down there most of the time.

Later on, to make matters worse, four children came out of another garden two houses up, and started running up and down the path of Chris's allotment, and yelling at the builders who are building an extension on the other side of the allotments. John had told me about these kids when he was making my compost bin. There isn't even a door, just a gap in the fence. I had pointed out this gap in the fence to the Allotment Officer too, and she said she would eventually try to have it patched up, but it was a question of money and getting the contractors to do it. She has the same difficulty I have with getting the Council to do anything. You just have to keep on at them till you're blue in the face.

All in all, I came away feeling scared and victimised, and it detracts from my pleasure of being there. I dread to think what the Family-from-Hell's reaction will be when the fence eventually does go up - no doubt they'll blame me for that, and will victimise me all the more until I can grow a bramble big enough to shut them out entirely.

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