Love Thy Neighbour

December 14, 2006 at 1:33 am (Uncategorized)

Despite a really curious level of denial by many, Sydney is a high density city. We live close together, and there’s a lot of us. It’s still nothing compared to larger cities of the world, but it’s still a fifth of the entire population of Australia, so Sydneysiders feel it’s a mite crowded these days. After all that time spent sitting in traffic, commuters are understandably feeling a little testy about numbers in general (petrol prices, travelling at 0 kms per hour, being 40 minutes late for work, losing count of cars carrying only the driver…). I’m actually surprised there isn’t more road rage. Drivers have ample time every day to reflect on the fact that no one in government has done anything about the public transport infrastructure required to deal with the now four million people who live here. Traffic jams are just queues, after all, and you already know how much we love to spend time in those.

So. It’s pretty shoulder to shoulder on the domestic front as well as bumper to bumper on the traffic front. Because Sydney housing prices are OUT OF THIS WORLD, but owning your own home is still a cherished national ideal, people who choose to remain in Sydney are moving into apartments at a fairly unprecedented rate. More apartments have been thrown up here in the past few years than 4 am kebabs.

And yet people seem to think their home is a secluded island paradise. An oasis into which no Tom will peep, no wind chime will ding, and no cooking fumes will seep. Seriously, do you really expect to live with so many other people so closely located ALL AROUND YOU, and never be aware of their existence? I’m AMAZED by what some neighbours expect. We used to live in a great place in Glen Street, Bondi Beach, and there was a crazy, petty woman in the sprawling block of apartments opposite who tried to insist to our landlord that our windows should be filled in because they overlooked her windows. I mean, where the hell does she think she’s living? This ain’t the Great Dividing Range, toots.

So today, just for something different, I thought I’d take you on a little imaginary journey into a display of neighbourly cooperation, Sydney style.

Dear Neighbour,
Hi! We live downstairs in Number 2. Sorry to bother you, but would you mind please getting rid of that pile of mail at the main entrance? I know it’s for the previous tenants, but it’s been six months and I don’t think they’re coming for it. You can just drop them off at the post office marked return to sender – that’s what I did when we moved in here and had the same problem. Thanks!

Dear No. 2,
Problem solved – I’ve set the whole pile alight.
Ta ta, your friendly neighbourhood arsonist.

Dear No. 4,
I know this is going to seem crazy, but it’s really a much better idea to send the mail back. Otherwise it’ll just keep coming.

Dear No. 2,
What, like these notes?

Dear No. 4,
Okay, this is the last one, I promise. You have someone staying with you at the moment that smokes at night right by our bedroom window. Hate to be a nag, but it’s really gross. Do you mind asking him to smoke back up on your back step? Thanks.

Hey No. 2, you’re an ex-smoker, aren’t you? I can just tell. Sure, I’ll ask Smokin’ Billy to take it elsewhere, but in return, do you mind asking all your boring, egomaniacal lawyer mates to avoid sitting in your courtyard every Saturday night? Otherwise I’m going to start egging them from my window every time they start waxing lyrical about the size of their…well, you know what they say about a man and the length of his billable unit.

Dear No. 4
That’s completely uncalled for, especially coming from someone who frequently seems to drag corpses across the floor. Are they body bags you’ve got up there? They certainly sound like it every night when we’re trying to sit down to a quiet dinner.

No. 2, you must be kidding! Quiet? What about the fact that you inflict your GOD AWFUL MUSIC on us day after day after day? Not everyone wants to rock out to Supertramp, you know, you bad taste, bourgeois bumpkin.

To No. 4:
Listen, neighbour, this has gone far enough. We all have to live together, and as we’re the owner-occupiers in this building, I can assure you we won’t be the ones leaving any time soon. I know which real estate agent you deal with, and I’d be happy to put in a call.

Dear No. 2,
I’d really like to know what kind of person feels the need to put a lock on a communal laundry power outlet. It’s not your power point, honey. Deal with it.

To No. 4: I can’t believe I have to live below someone so childish and petty. I know you have taken up the bagpipes for the sole reason of getting to me. It’s pathetic. Get a life.

Poor No. 2: Listen, you’re flattering yourself and flaming your rampant paranoia at the same time. By the way, we can hear you up here. Yes, that’s right. You know what I’m talking about. We’re keeping scorecards if you’d like to see how you did.

Dear No. 4
I’m sure one day we’ll laugh about all this, but right now, for your sake, I really hope you’re working on acquiring the appropriate visa.

Dear No. 2
I’m already laughing, sweetheart. Hope you’ve saved all your receipts, because you can expect a call from the ATO any day now. Don’t mention it – it was the least I could do.


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