Walking on by

Item one: erratum – see previous post. Apparently my son began walking on Karndean flooring, not plush carpet. Apologies to my mother for not listening properly and for not producing a grandchild who started walking on the carpet bought for the purpose. I do hope Joseph furthers his reluctant new skill by actually walking on the carpet at some point. Any carpet would do. Or anywhere I am in fact. I am going to stop asking him to walk now. According to experts, asking children to do things just doesn’t get results. You have to show them by example. Right. Maybe he hasn’t observed enough of me walking. I will put it on tomorrow’s to do list. Be Seen Walking By Son.

Item two: neighbourhood. This is a word Lily asked me to explain to her today. Are we a neighbourhood? Yes but do we live in one? But are we? Can I have one? That sort of thing. We do indeed have a neighbourhood, and are not above gatecrashing local Royal Wedding Street Parties with accompanying American guests. A right band of commoners, but who was counting? We know pretty much all our neighbours and get on well with them. We do have a new neighbour we haven’t met yet. Just 4 doors away in the same conservation area and about to be prosecuted by the council for damaging two magnificent front garden copper beeches (with preservation orders) to the degree that they must be felled. And they would have got him on wilful and rather awful destruction to an ancient wall too if he had bothered to complete the job. Instead he has ‘made good’ (this is not an accurate way to describe the work) with a reclaim Suffolk brick under instruction from the planning council and already appealed to the secretary of state about the trees and the way he believes the whole street has challenged each of his planning applications. His latest, under the guise of rendering and painting the whole house (a Good Thing) includes further points on inspection for a 2.5 x 2 m gate he would like to construct at the front, once the trees are removed and semi-mature replacements found room. Then he can have the parking he wanted all along. We appealed successfully for parking to remain at the rear of the property when land was severed for a development, so find the loss of the trees particularly galling. And two large trees only a couple of doors to the other side of us have to come down soon as well, as they have been proven to cause subsidence. Our leafy area will look quite bare. All we have now is a National Trust-esque row of lavenders near our door and a fig, trying desperately to hold on to its modesty and hoping it will survive the tree-felling of 2011.

I would really like to get to know our new neighbours and listen to how they are developing a fascinating property with a rich history (left to the gentlewomen of Ipswich, a bomb scare, squatters and a fire since we moved in, for example). But I fear they may judge us and not want to listen. We too contacted the council and it is In the Public Domain. Another neighbour would like to hold a street get-together and barbecue. I am keen to support this. Even if people want to fortress themselves into their castles, it is important that we understand each other and appreciate the reasonings of a conservation area. What are we trying to conserve? Is it right that we furnish our houses with Swedish taste, our gardens with Australian or Mediterranean accoutrements and our driveways with French, Spanish, Italian and German engineering, but deny a chap the chance to celebrate his Asian heritage by imposing large gates? Is it not all a bit double Dutch? If the trees go and the parking at the front does come so be it. I am more concerned that we may have lost the chance of a strong neighbourhood by not really getting to know the new people at 161.

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