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Printed from https://www.writing.com/main/view_item/item_id/1432726-Human-Zoo
Rated: · Non-fiction · Experience · #1432726
Living next door to a neighbour from hell.
What would you do if your new neighbour, by way of introducing herself, turned up

at your door early one morning drunk, asking if you had any suspenders that she

could borrow? I was faced with this predicament three years ago; it was a school

day and getting my son out of bed and organised enough to leave the house by

eight was hard enough. I didn't need any interruptions, at this hour my mood is

never good. Drinking strong coffee is a necessity. Without it I am that of a spitting

cobra. I tend to become rational around ten and that's on a good day. When the

doorbell rang I hadn't finished the first cup so whoever was there was on thin ice

already.



The alcoholic fumes hit me full on, making my stomach turn over. Clinging to the

door frame and clutching a bottle of wine, my new neighbour seemed keen to spread

the good cheer she was obviously feeling. When she put forth her request, I stared

at her with horror. Kate Moss she wasn't; her appearance resembled that of a

derelict who resided in the nearest hedge. Of course, the door got slammed in her

face and I stumbled into the kitchen trying to figure out what had happened. Alex

was bombarding me with questions having witnessed this strange encounter.

Through the window we could see her making her way across the street to Alfie's

house. Whether she got the suspenders from him I shall never know. An old man

has his secrets.



Ringlet Way is part of the Turnpike Down estate. I wouldn't say it was rough but the

kids here have lessons in how to get an ASBO. (Anti Social Behaviour Order).

Of course, when I first moved here I wasn't aware of the bad reputation it had gained

because I used to live in London. Moving to the country and going for long walks

in the fields that surrounded the estate was what I'd envisaged for me and Alex.

Instead I got a reality check when my car got egged and scratched the day after

moving in. It wasn't the welcome present I'd been expecting.



I realised early on that there seemed to be a lot of tension on the estate, witnessing

public arguments in the street between parents who fought over their children was a

common sight. No one, it seemed, could solve the minor disputes that kids have

without it becoming a huge drama. Alex, being the new kid on the block, was

immediatly targeted and even today gets verbally abused in the street.



As time went by, keeping to yourself and trying to live quietly wasn't always easy.

Halloween, for example, became a nightmare. The usual eggs up the window and

if I didn't answer the door it would get kicked. Using this traditional holiday as an

excuse to cause trouble, the teenagers didn't bother with masks and costumes.

They would knock on your door and just ask for the money. If you refused, verbal

abuse would pepper the air and my car parked outside would get another scratch.

Toys and garden equipment would suddenly go missing from the back garden,

which was often used as a short cut by several people on the run from the Police.

The barbeque we were enjoying at the time was kicked out of the way as they

made a desperate attempt to escape.



Complaining was pointless; it turned into a case of my word against theirs. Police

are regular visitors to the estate and know many residents by their first name,

anti-social behaviour being the main reason for their almost constant presence.



Being a small estate it seemed everybody knew your business whether you wanted

them to or not. My new neighbour's antics were just another thing to gossip over

and just a few weeks after she'd moved in the rumours were already circulating.



It wasn't long before she knocked at my door again. Now sober she introduced

herself to me as if we'd just met. This was followed by a list of items she needed

to borrow, including use of phone, cigarettes and not surprisingly, headache tablets,

as according to her, she had the hangover from hell. Judging by the empty wine

bottles that overflowed her dustbin on a regular basis, it was hardly a revelation.



I don't mind lending the odd item to a neighbour but when they begin to think of your

house as the local convenience store it gets a bit much. After a while I would

pretend to be out, ignoring the incessant ringing of the doorbell, hoping she would

get the message. She didn't.



Blanche, as I call her is not her real name and when it's mentioned, which is often,

people tend to screw up their face so it's appropriate. Her daughter, I've called

Grace for a similar reason.



Loud parties next door became the norm. Countless requests to keep the noise

down were ignored. Blanche and Grace and a never-ending stream of visitors

seemed intent on making everyone else's lives miserable, mine especially, as I

was the nearest neighbour. Lack of sleep had made Alex fretful and anxious, which

in turn, worried me. The stress of this left us unable to relax in our own home.



It's hard to keep to yourself when a drunk person follows you into your back garden

and won't leave until they finish telling you their problems. I'm not an agony aunt,

I'll sympathize up to a point but sooner or later a person has to help themselves.

The people who did this had serious drink and drug issues, hard to deal with, when

you have your child with you at the time and witnessing it all. As a result we rarely

used our garden as the constant interruptions spoilt the enjoyment somewhat.



Complaints had been building up against Blanche and Grace, as neighbours got

fed up with the constant noise. Police cars would turn up repeatedly as would the

ambulance that took Blanche and her friends away when the never ending parties

got too much.



Warnings from the local Housing Authority were sent to them but to no avail. After

a while the drink-and-drug-induced lifestyle got to her daughter. Grace was barely

sixteen when she left home. Despite the miseries she caused us for the two years

she lived there, I hope she's doing well. Having a mother, such as Blanche, can't

be easy. It wasn't a surprise that Grace behaved in the way she did. It's bound

to have an effect.



The sight of another ambulance outside Blanche's house, as I've said, was a

common occurence, except this one was different. It had been converted into a

home for two adults and two large dogs and was used to sell drugs from about

twenty feet from my kitchen window. Three months it was parked outside, attracting

the addicts from Blanche's house and others in the local area, causing further

misery to people on the estate who just wanted to live quietly. Seeing a man inject

his neck in full view of children playing nearby led to the police descending on

Ringlet Way in droves.



The awkward questions from Alex about the ongoing situation were difficult to

answer. It made me angry that my child had seen such damaging behaviour from

adults who should have known better.



Blanche had a criminal record as long as your arm. Her all too brief spell in prison

gave residents a chance to enjoy home life and some sense of normality.

Unfortunately, upon her return, nothing had changed. Her 'friends' were no longer

around but Blanche's chronic addiction to alcohol led to more grief and scary

situations for many residents.



The final straw came one night around three am. Blanche had taken to wailing

the word 'please' over and over at all hours of the day and night. Now alone, unable

to deal with her manic depressive addictions and no one to supply the booze she

desperately craved, the only thing left was to ask the neighbours. Again. Of course

sleep was impossible as her wails could be heard echoing all over the estate.



Reduced to tears, I wondered how much more misery we had to suffer in order for

something to be done. The previous week her smoke alarm had sounded for forty

minutes waking me and the neighbour on the other side. Blanche had put a chicken

stew on the stove to cremate while she passed out in the bedroom. A fireman who

arrived in one of three engines shook her awake. For saving her life, I didn't even get

a thank you. Perhaps it was a cry for help. I was more concerned that my house

could have gone up in flames at the time rather than be a shoulder to cry on.



Thankfully, someone had already called the Police and to see her taken away was

a huge relief. That night almost half the residents on the estate had been disturbed

by her begging for booze at their door. The local Housing Authority received more

complaints and finally with enough evidence to proceed, court action began against

her.



Blanche wasn't seen around for a long time, admitting herself to Rehab for the third

time meant she was finally facing the demons that plagued her for so long.

Rumours circulated that she would be evicted from her home, rent arrears being the

main reason. Obviously the three years of anti social behaviour were included but

that meant witnessess coming forward willing to appear in court.



I wasn't willing. Living alone with my son and being the one most affected by her

behaviour, made me vulnerable. Some of Blanche's friends were not the sort of

people you would want to meet on a dark night. I gave a statement and hoped for

the best.



No one wanted Blanche to lose her home, I didn't. The woman needed serious

help not prison. At the time I had no knowledge of the crimes that she'd committed.

It all came out in court when she blamed everyone else for her problems, The Judge

had seen enough evidence to send her to prison for twelve months. Once she had

served her sentence then her home would be repossessed, leaving her homeless.



The house sat empty for a year while she resided at her Majesty's Pleasure, the

garden was overgrown and used as a place to dump rubbish and several windows

were broken. It was a sorry sight to see when coming home from work. The

Housing Authority couldn't do anything until Blanche was released, then steps could

be made to redecorate it ready for another tenant.



I've learnt a lot from this experience, not through choice, I have to say. Seeing a

once attractive woman deteriorate through an addiction is heartbreaking and I'm

just a neighbour. Her problems became mine as she bought them to my door at

all hours. Sympathizing is a waste of time. It doesn't solve the problem. It's

pointless offering help or rehab when the person needing it is not willing. Blanche

will have to realise this if she wants to conquer her addictions and reclaim her life

again, if she fails this it means wherever she goes another neighbour will endure the

same hellish nightmares that I've gone through. Not a nice thought.



In today's society everyone has encountered anti-social behaviour of some kind

and respect for others seems a thing of the past, which is a sad thing. I want my

son to enjoy his childhood as I did. It pains me to see him suffer through the

actions of others. Not everyone on the estate is bad but as few families, such as

Blanche's have destroyed what could be lovely place to live.



With her house now being decorated for a new tenant all thoughts of Blanche are

becoming a distant memory. Life is back to normal and we can begin to enjoy

living in peace again. Sounds of shouting in the street still make me panic, if only

for a second. It's strange how some things take longer to forget. I guess time will

change that. At least I hope it will.











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