Always interesting, often different

The Gate

There has been scaffolding on the balcony at the back of my flat for over 7 months. The first lot was erected to enable the heating engineers to fit a new boiler with outlet unit into my upstairs neighbour’s flat. When the job was completed the scaffolding was not removed and the builders who arrived to do the external decorations and repair work in March just built on to it to cover the whole of the back of both mine and my neighbours property.

All of this has meant that it was virtually impossible for me to get out on to my balcony, so I didn’t realise that the gate which I had put up some years ago to stop my crazy alcoholic downstairs neighbour coming up onto my balcony, had been moved and the padlock and heavy duty bike chain had disappeared. My tenancy document states quite clearly that the balcony is for my sole use, but that the garden below is shared. Because I cannot get down the very steep steps to the garden, I greatly value having the balcony all to myself.

I have no idea who cut off the bike chain, it was possibly the second lot of scaffolders, but they denied this, saying they had not seen any padlock or chain. When the first scaffolding was erected the poles were brought through my flat, so those scaffolders were unlikely to be the guilty party.

I decided it wasn’t worth aggravating my downstairs neighbour by trying to find out if he was the culprit, but strongly suspected he was, as when the gate was first put up he was livid that he could no longer get on to my balcony and smoke near me or spend ages trying to have a drunken conversations with me that I really don’t want!

Once all the external works were done and the back scaffolding removed I hoped it would be a simple matter to get the gate fixed back up, but things then started to get complicated. My downstairs neighbour decided to dump a load of his junk on my balcony! Thus included a rotten garden table, two rat cages, a couple of rubbish bins and some mouldy doormats.

I got my son-in-law Trevor to take everything back down into his garden. At the same time I also got him to retrieve my two rather expensive garden chairs, which were now downstairs, one in the supposedly shared garden and the other, according to Trevor clearly visible inside my downstairs neighbour’s patio windows. Trevor is a very well built, solid, fit guy, he goes to the gym daily and has worked in security, I knew my crazy neighbour would not pick an argument with him!

So having re-claimed my chairs, I purchased another sturdy bike chain and padlock and chained my chairs to the balcony railings to make sure they didn’t find their way back into my neighbour’s clutches again.

I spent some time trying to fix a date to get my gate reinstated, 3 promised dates came and went, mainly due to the weather. Finally I got a definitely agreed date of last Monday.

As I didn’t want to get into any direct confrontation with my downstairs neighbour, because of his drunken aggressiveness, and thus get into an argument about the trash he had dumped back on my balcony. I enlisted my volunteer Jill to be with me to deal with any unpleasantness that might happen.

Sure enough as soon as the workman arrived to reaffix my gate, my downstairs neighbour came out of his flat, clearly not sober, and shouting loudly!

The first altercation was over the dumped trash. I wanted it taken back into my neighbours garden, he didn’t want it moved at all! Jill was able to persuade the workman to take all the trash away with him, as it had already been agreed that he would remove some netting from the railings that the painters had left behind. So, one problem solved!

Having lost that battle, my downstairs neighbour decided to tell the workman how to re-affix the gate. The workman wasn’t pleased. First my downstairs neighbour tried to give the workman some rotting leather belt to attach the gate to the railings. When I protested that it was nothing to do with him, he returned with some very thin metal chain! Very easy for him to cut though!

Once the gate was fully fixed to the wall, I then took the heavy bike chain I had used to fasten my garden chairs to the railings, and gave it to the workman, who wrapped it through the gate and round the railings securing it with the padlock. Once my downstairs neighbour realised he was thwarted he retreated to his flat cursing both me and the workman.

At last, my balcony was secure! Peace, security and safety at last, I thought! I was very grateful to the workman who did more than his job description entailed and to Jill who was a super, tactful advocate.

I went to bed that night feeling very pleased. Until I was woken at about 11.30pm. My downstairs neighbour was having a drunken altercation with another man, whose voice I didn’t recognise. The cause of his anger was very evident, he was furious that he could no longer get onto my balcony! He was loudly cursing both myself, the workman and the world in general! Then I heard a bang, something had hit my window, I’ve no idea what it was, but decided to put the chain on the front door, open it and tell both my neighbour and his companion that if they didn’t move I would be calling the police.

They dispersed, with me wondering once more how my drunken neighbour was able to get down the steep steps to his flat without falling and breaking a limb or two.

In case you are wondering why I’ve done nothing about the aggravation I’ve had from my downstairs neighbour ever since I moved here. Well, I have tried, but the Housing Association have not been at all pro-active. The most they have done is to get my neighbour to sign an agreement not to harass or speak to me. Which sort of works when he is sober, but as that seems to be a rare occurrence, in reality it’s not very affective.

Involving the police has been equally futile, they are only willing to take action if there are independent witnesses. Which due to my decreased care hours is a rare event.

So whilst I have some security again, I don’t feel as safe as I’d like to be and I’m still very keen to move as soon as possible.

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