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Maybe I'm just a woolly minded liberal...

(96 Posts)
Gizmo Fri 11-Jul-08 10:18:24

OK, so I?m outrageously middle class. Grow my own herbs, drive a Volvo etc etc. Live in an area of wall to wall Semi-Detached Victoriana, mainly inhabited by People Like Us. Who are, generally, very nice and helpful neighbours.

Now, a few doors down from me is a pair of houses owned by the Council, one of which is occupied by some People Not Like Us: a family of nine (kids from 3 to about 16) who are ? horrors! ? working class. Guilty of a) owning a beat up old pickup, b) having a lot of toys and bikes in their (unkempt) front garden and c) having the occasional noisy domestic.

Last night, when I got home from work, my neighbour-from-over-the-road knocked on my door and marched in, breathless with gossip. Apparently People Not Like Us had had a big row in the afternoon: properly serious ? Mrs People Not Like Us had gone after Mr People Not Like Us with a baseball bat in the street and had taken it out on his pick up, smashing the windscreen and the headlamps. Kids watching and everything.

So Mr Neighbour-from-over-the-road has rung the Council Housing Officer to complain. He was heavily hinting that I should do so too. And the more I think about it, the more I think he is an officious little prick:

1) I have never had any problem with this family: their kids are friendly and polite, Mr and Mrs People Not Like Us are OK too.
2) They may have a volatile relationship but I?ve not seen either of them, or their kids, with any physical damage. Nor do any of them seem subdued or bullied (with the possible exception of the youngest, but that?s another story)
3) If we do complain, and the family gets moved, exactly how does that help them? Mr Neighbour from over the road kept going on about how bad it must have been for the kids ? I?m sure it wasn?t fun, but getting moved is not going to help anyone.

Frankly I think the real agenda was only revealed as Mr Neighbour-from-over-the-road was leaving, when as a parting shot, he told me that an estate agent had told him that the reason the house next door to him was not selling was because of the presence of the People Not Like Us, which had reduced the value of the house by at least 50k.

So, AIBU to think Mr Neighbour-from-over-the-road is an unpleasant busybody? And to go and knock on Mrs People Not Like Us?s door and ask her if she wants to come round for a cup of tea sometime? What do people think?

Gizmo Fri 11-Jul-08 10:19:10

Great. I have a rash of question marks.

How embarrassing.

Katisha Fri 11-Jul-08 10:20:09

I think it would be great if you made overtures to Mrs PNLU. Go for it!

reethi96 Fri 11-Jul-08 10:22:10

I don't think you should ring the council as you didn't witness the incident. I personally would not ask scary woman around for a cup of tea, because she just sounds too volatile for my liking.

I think you are a woolly minded liberal wink. At least you are not a snob though. smile

Katisha Fri 11-Jul-08 10:23:51

But nobody else seems prepared to try to integrate them into the street.
Wouldn't hurt to at least try.

Gizmo Fri 11-Jul-08 10:26:17

Precisely Reethi, I didn't witness the incident. I fail to see why my neighbours think I would do anything so possibly damaging to this family on the basis of hearsay.

And frankly, even if I had seen the incident, I don't think I would have rung the housing officer. They might need a bit of marriage counselling, but that's for them to sort out, as adults, and I don't see what the council has to do with it.

foxinsocks Fri 11-Jul-08 10:27:33

I love this 'people not like us'. I meet your definition of a, b and very occasionally c.

I'd let them be.

Doodle2U Fri 11-Jul-08 10:27:43

Nah, go the whole hog and organise a neighbourhood BBQ - mix it up a bit and let everyone get to know each other. Not so easy to go ringing housing departments etc and getting people in lumber if you've shared a burger & friendly chat with them!grin

Ags Fri 11-Jul-08 10:29:11

Never mind outrageously middle class, you just sound outrageously lovely. The world could do with a few more woolly liberals like you! Go for it - invite her for a cuppa. If it goes well, brilliant and if it doesn't then nothing lost except an hour and a few teabags (earl grey or lapsang of course)!

Gizmo Fri 11-Jul-08 10:36:01

But seriously folks...

If someone did ring the housing officer and complain, would it get them into trouble? AFAIK, the police weren't called, so there's no 'official' witnesses.

Mrs PNLU can be a bit scary from time to time: my guess is she's a bit stressed (she has 7 children! And a job! And the council are pretty lousy at keeping her house repaired!) so occasionally it all gets too much. But tbh, even with the occasional 1 am shouting match they're a lot better than the previous tenants, who received quite a lot of visits from the police.

gingerninja Fri 11-Jul-08 10:38:08

My family are working class and don't have toys in an unkept garden or have domestics in public, it doesn't go hand in hand.

it's not a class issue it's a unsociable neighbour issue and if the PLY are unsocible for not 'accepting' the PNLY then the PNLY are as guilty for not integrating. She could have you round for tea if she wanted to couldn't she?

Some people, whatever class, work hard for their lot in life and I'd be cheesed off if the actions of my neighbours not only caused me hassle but the value of my house to drop because frankly we plough everything we've got into our house for our family.

reethi96 Fri 11-Jul-08 10:38:21

I expect they would receive a visit from the housing officer and be given a warning.

BigBadMousey Fri 11-Jul-08 10:39:37

If I had 9 kids aged between 3 and 16 I'd probably have a beat up old car, loads of toys and bikes in my front garden and definitely more than the occasional noisy domestic.

I'd definitely invite her round if she seems nice.

From your description of him YANBU in your opinion of Mr N. from-over-the-road (I know you posh lot like hyphened surnames but that one is a bit OTT don't you think?)

bythepowerofgreyskull Fri 11-Jul-08 10:40:10

I wouldn't go round and ask her for a cup of tea but would definately make efforts to talk to her if bumping in the street.

You sound like a great neighbour smile

Katisha Fri 11-Jul-08 10:40:25

Thing is Gizmo, you won't know what to think until you've actually had a go at talking to her.
I think it would be brave to give it a go, especially as you feel so strongly.

reethi96 Fri 11-Jul-08 10:40:41

Lol BBM!

gingerninja Fri 11-Jul-08 10:41:08

My mother had 10 children in the house when I was a kid and never did anything of the sort.

foxinsocks Fri 11-Jul-08 10:45:02

yes exactly, this isn't a class issue whatever that may be.

We had v middle class people next door to us who fought day and night and had very loud, screaming, make-up sex all the time. They were total nightmares and have, thankfully, split up and gone their separate ways.

A good neighbour is not determined by class!

fryalot Fri 11-Jul-08 10:46:12

I think that Doodle's idea of a street BBQ is a fab one.

Don't ring the council. They had a row. So? It happens!

They have an unkempt front garden. My garden is not exactly going to win any prizes and I don't have seven children AND a job blush

Mrs NotLikeUs sounds like she maybe needs a friend. You sound like a nice neighbour. Perhaps you could be friends as well as neighbours?

rebelmum1 Fri 11-Jul-08 10:48:52

Yes there's nothing wrong with this family except for the lively domestic really from what you say. It's a bit harsh reporting it but it is quite violent and needs to be flagged. Are they approachable? I think where possible these things need to be managed within the community. Can you ask if they're ok? I wouldn't get too involved with them or she could come after you with a baseball bat if you get on the wrong side ..

Katisha Fri 11-Jul-08 10:49:41

I think I might start with a cup of tea rather than throw everyone straight into the deep end with a BBQ...

Gizmo Fri 11-Jul-08 10:49:48

Well, this is it, Ginger.I might (well I do, actually) think my neighbour is an officious prick, but there are a few hard truths here.

As I say, this family are generally friendly and polite with their neighbours - I've heard of one incident where Mrs PNLU got a bit gobby with one of my other neighbours, but I don't know the back story and again, I didn't witness it. However, they do let their domestic problems spill over into a public arena. Personally I don't think that is anti-social behaviour, but I'm sure some people do find it so.

The other hard fact is that, in this housing market, people are looking for an excuse to knock the value of a house down, and the council houses (not the tenants, actually, just having the council houses there) do provide that excuse. Now, it's all very well for me to scoff at Mr Neighbour-over-the-road for his Nimbyism, but the fact is, he's worked hard for his house and loosing money will hurt him.

My only solution at the moment is to try a friendly approach to Mrs PNLU to see if she could do with some help. Which might cut back on the incidents of public rowing. Which might console Mr Neighbour-over-the-road. It does all feel rather patronising, frankly, but it's better than just trying to ignore the problem, I think.

gingerninja Fri 11-Jul-08 10:54:33

grin Sorry but this does sound very middle class, all this trying to befriend people, you're like class missionaries, we'll have tea and 'make it better'. You are making all sorts of assumptions about this family. Might need a friend? Maybe she has plenty, plenty of people like her with big families and messy gardens who have arguments in public. Maybe what she needs is a kick up the backside, but again that would be an assumption.

I'm sorry but I really get hacked off about 'middle class liberals' making the assumption that the 'working classes' need saving in some way. If your nosey neigbour type had an argument in the street would you be knocking on her door with the offer of tea? no you'd leave it to her friends.

rebelmum1 Fri 11-Jul-08 10:55:36

The social norm is not to have a violent domestic in the street, but rather than isolate and antagonising them by anonymous reporting you need to approach them and ask them to tone it down and check they are ok in a nice way. If they fly off the handle then you have grounds to complain and they are antisocial. My dp and I shout under our breath, he did once run after me shouting 'jam rags' when I asked him to drop the diying (rebuilding our house) to pop over me sanitary where to the caravan I was living comfortably. I've never been so embarrassed blush

gingerninja Fri 11-Jul-08 10:58:42

Gizmo, i wrote the last one before reading your last post which was a little more enlightening about your motives.

Keep up the neighbourly chat, you don't need an agenda and you don't need to 'fix' anything. I doubt you could alter the situation much tbh but if your unsociable neighbour felt she knew people she might be less inclined to shout her mouth off in public. Then again, maybe that is just the way she is.....

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