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» Neighbours

hay festival
After years of squatting and renting I managed to get onto the property ladder and buy a lovely first floor flat in Camberwell, south London.

During the first few weeks we decorated the place and put our personal mark on the house. I even bought some power tools now that I was a responsible adult and I put up some shelves in the study. While I was cutting wood outside the house my neighbour who lives downstairs came out and we had a chat. He said he needed to put up some shelves because his mum was an editor and she sends him lots of books and he just had them piled up in his room.

It felt quite manly and grown up when I lent him my jig-saw, drill and a readers digest DIY book and he made some shelves and bought me a bottle of wine as a thank-you.

A few weeks later I was going to the Hay Literary Festival because my sister's boyfriend was having an exhibition there. When I saw my neighbour again I asked him if he was going to the festival and he said he wasn't but his Mum was going because she loved it, he said “It's like Glastonbury for old people” and it is. The streets are full of the blue rinse brigade just dawdling about and randomly stopping in front of you for no reason or to stare at buildings. He said his Mum was doing a talk there so I got her name and said I would look her up if I had time.

I got to the festival for the second weekend and found in the guide that she was doing a talk at 11am on the Sunday morning about her new book about the history of English gardens. My family had arrived in Hay as well so I went to the talk with my Mum and my Nan. We had all had dinner the night before and I was a little hungover but I made it to the talk. My Mum is hard of hearing so we had to sit in the hearing-loop in the middle of the audience of about 400 people.

It was a very interesting talk. She spoke about how the potato arrived in England and how no-one ate it for seventy years and how it was a catholic vegetable and protestants wouldn't eat it. The tomato was thought poisonousness and had come from the devils own garden. She said how 17th century sailors used to come back from their travels with bulbs from exotic places and sell them to the aristocracy who would grow them and have a “glorious hyacinth that no-one had ever seen the like before.” It was all quite twee but I found it quite interesting.

At the end she said she had ten minutes for questions and answers and one of the blue rinsers asked her about bindweed or something and how to get rid of it or something. I hadn't planned to say anything but for some reason my hand went up and they passed me a microphone. My Mum and Nan were both mortified and were trying their hardest to look like they weren't anything to do with me and sink into their seats.

I said “Lovely speech. Thank-you. I've just moved into a new flat in Camberwell, above your son actually, and I have to look out of my kitchen window every single day of the week at the state of your son's garden and I was just wondering when you were going to come round and sort it out.”

The place erupted. She stood on the stage and pointed her finger at me and said “I despair, I despair with my son's garden. My husband will agree that I despair over his garden. My son's garden is just paving stones and three big pots of grey dust!” She then went on to talk about how lovely her daughter's garden was and that her son said he would only become a gardener when he retired.

She said that her son lived with his friend Anna and they had know each other since they were babies (that cleared that up for me because I didn't know if they were a couple or just flat mates) and that Anna's parents were at the house this very day, working in the garden and “sorting it out” and she pointed her finger at me again.

She disappeared after the talk and I didn't get a chance to apologise like my Mum said I should. When I told my uncle what I'd said he said it was unfair of me and I started to think I had upset her.
I rang my wife who was studying at home and asked her if she had been in the garden and she said “Yes, but Anna's parents are tidying up their garden” and I said “I know.”

A few weeks later we had a party and we invited the neighbours but they said they were away that weekend but we could use their garden. Then during the party he came out of his house and I went over to have a chat with him and thank him for the use of his garden and as I walked up to him he said “Dad, dad, this is the guy that asked Mum that question at the Hay Festival”
and as I shook his hand I said “Sorry about that, I didn't know if it was out of order or not”

and he said “No not at all. That was fantastic. We've been dining out on that for weeks! You've given her a great story to use in her talks and a way to talk about her children's gardens because most of her audience have children and are interested in what she thinks of their gardens. Thank-you.”
(Sun 4th Oct 2009, 18:05, More)

» We have to talk

me: a a working class lad from south london.
she: daughter of a swiss scientist nobel nominee who had bought her a house in west kensington.

woke up in morning with hangover after night out together:

her: we need to talk.
me: er, ok
her: you fell off the bed last night and proceeded to sleep on the floor.
me: er
her: i tried to help you back onto the bed saying "come on honey you need to get back into bed" and you swung at me and said "you're just so fucking posh!"

different classes
(Sun 22nd Apr 2007, 13:54, More)

» Stuff I've found

About ten summer's ago, a Croatian friend of my mine had a job in a very busy pub in London. One evening he was clearing glasses in the pub garden when he found a pair of nunchuka's in an unassuming plastic bag. Deciding it would be a nice birthday present for his fifteen year-old brother back in Croatia, he put them to one side and when no one claimed them he took them home.

Whilst walking home through the streets of London at 1am he decided to 'test' them out and walked down the street giving it the Bruce Lee.

After about five minutes of twirling the batons three unmarked police cars screeched to a halt around him, he was forced to the ground, hand-cuffed and taken to kennington cop shop for interrogation.

In the interview room two CID officers tried to give him the third degree and ask him why he was walking down the street using a dangerous weapon in a threatening manner to which he replied:

"Dangerous Weapon?? Don't make me laugh. It's a fucking toy. I'm from Croatia where we've just had a war. I'm going home to a wedding in Croatia next week and after the ceremony someone will go outside and fire rounds into the sky where every third bullet is a tracer-bullet and lights up the sky. My grandfather lives in the countryside and has an anti-aircraft gun in his shed which he found after the war along with missile launchers, bombs, grenades and many other guns and weapons. I did two years national service in the army. I was going to give these nunchucka's to my fifteen year brother as a birthday present. They're not a weapon - they're a toy."

They totally agreed with him, let him go and even gave him a lift all the way home in a patrol car.
(Sun 9th Nov 2008, 0:42, More)

» Best Graffiti Ever

opposite the train station in peckham, south london

and someone had written underneath:

"peckham for the peckish"
(Mon 7th May 2007, 22:17, More)

» Mistaken Identity

Signor Fagiolo
A week into our honeymoon, my new wife and I were sunbathing on a beach near Venice, Italy.
I went to go and get us both an ice-cream and passed a group of italian kids playing on the beach who started pointing at me and shouting out: "Mr Bean, Mr Bean, Mr Bean!"
Quite upset, I went and sat back down next to my wife and said
"I can't believe that group of kids think I look like Mr Bean", to which she casually replied, as if the whole world knew and I was the last to find out.

"My whole family think you look like Mr Bean."

and I always thought I was more like noel gallagher
(Thu 31st May 2007, 17:17, More)
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