Monday, November 25, 2013

french cold war

There is a Cold War brewing in our building, and it's likely to end in nuclear explosion.

If you are interested/care about anything to do with home renovations and/or construction, then do read on. If your neighbour is a cunt  an annoying little cul-hole, then you might find this interesting too.

If you find French people to adhere particularly well to their stereotype of rigid difficultibility, then again, the topic is also covered herein.

As you might already be aware - I have banged on about it for a while - but right up until Saturday morning, we were working towards getting an extension built onto our house.

Being endowed with twins and realising our flat is suddenly dauntingly small, we launched into the process that comes with wanting to extend a property.

We had about two weeks left until the council finally gave it the thumbs up, and in the meantime, my dutiful husband has been briefing neighbours, putting together party wall agreement documents, generally guiding everyone, very diplomatically, towards the fact that there would be building works happening in our house.

This is a legal requirement, so we've been jumping through all the necessary hoops.

Everyone - save one couple - has been great about it, realising we are about to size the fuck up,  family-wise.
They have all had long conversations with the Brit about their concerns, and everyone has come to agreement that it should be done; one couple even saying it would be completely unreasonable not to let us do this.

Neighbours have to agree - and sign - an agreement for this work to commence. We don't have a lot of time here (Crisis, I'm halfway through my pregnancy), so we've been working on this day and night.

However, in most ointments, there is a fly.

And this one comes in the package of a Parisian woman. The stereotype dictates that French women from Paris are the most petulant and difficult in the world. Funny, I literally have no idea why anyone would generalise that way about them at all.

She and her husband have been 'special' since day one.

For one, he says he does anything, without argument, that his wife wants him to do. He wants "an easy life" and this is the way he achieves it, even mentioning that the French are indeed, "extremely difficult." She doesn't want the noise, because she works from home and has a "VERY" stressful job.

"Oh, what does she do?" I ask, thinking maybe she's a paramedic, or an air traffic controller, or is the actual prime minister.

"She's in PR."

Oh. My world! I can relate here, and of course PR can be stressful if you're on call and dealing with a major crisis/issue and journalists are calling you at midnight for statements. I know this world well.

Turns out, she PRs for an accessories company. Bracelets and necklaces must be seriously controversial and insane, then. Think of all the global issues that come with the costume jewellery domain.

Anyway, we move on. And as we try and offer solutions for her, she just digs her heels in deeper and finds an excuse for every suggestion we try. We offer gant charts, so that the builders will put down their tools on certain days so she can work in silence.

No dice.

Oh, wait. Maybe she needs to get something out of this too.
So we get her in touch with our architect, so that she can perhaps piggy back on our plans to create a balcony of their own on the back of our new structure. (She can't, but that's the council's decision, not ours.)

We are just short of pleading, while she goes on about noise and "needing her home to be just so."

Of course, we can do whatever indoor renovations we want without her consent, anyway (like a bathroom). And there will be noise anyway. The difference here is that some of the building work will be outside.

Either way, she refused to bend, and to make matters worse, kept playing the victim card  - that this was "ruining her calm."

So the Brit comes up with an idea. "We'll rent her an office! A nice one! It'll be a nice gesture!"

He does all his research and finds a few a skip, hop and jump from our building, so she can do her work in peace. That's apparently her largest gripe, so we will make sure she's comfortable and has an alternative. Surely, that will be a good solution here?

Bah non. That was met with a sneer and a "She doesn't like being told what to do."

She also seems to think that we haven't been holding her hand and including her during the whole process. Accusing us of not telling her of our plans. Which is total bullshit - all we have DONE here is keep her abreast of what we want to do and how and why we are doing things, step by step.

So she has got her way, simply by not signing the agreement. She is the very reason we can't proceed.

Make no mistake, I can see the bigger picture here. It IS a blessing in disguise. We don't have the money. We'd need to find the rest of it. And that could be in vested shares, if we are lucky, or a lottery ticket. We also don't have the luxury of time to go into a full legal dispute, pushing plans and timings back even further.

But the fact that she is the reason this isn't happening; it's her lousy attitude, that's what really got under under my skin.

Her husband came downstairs to deliver the news in a sheepish veil of, "She doesn't like coming home. This has been so stressful for her. The work would mess with her "sanctuary of tranquility." (Are. You. Joking?)

At least I know I won't give birth in a building site, so I am trying to remain positive here. But our place could've been so much better, it had so much potential, we could've lived there longer.

So we will have to make do with a small house. The poor Brit was so depressed, my heart broke for him. He's been working on this day and night. We have also spent about £4 000 already on things like solicitors, architects, council and legal fees.

It was a bitter pill to swallow, administered by a shitty neighbour whose view of herself exceeds any level of self-importance I have seen in a human in a while.

So, we are now looking at what we can do inside that:
1) makes a fuckload of noise - and doesn't need her approval like hosting a rave;
2) involves about 12 angle grinders and jackhammers;
3) can somehow make our space larger and twin friendly.

We might be able to do our basement. Basements are $$$ - you need things like lightwells/fire escapes and digging is involved.
But we are looking at it, as it can be an additional room.

We are going to get new cupboards put in for storage, and redo the kitchen which is currently small and looks like it escaped a 70s time machine.
We'll do things like sand the floors and double glaze the windows.

Then as a final touch, I will Farrow & Ball everything in a flamboyant flourish.

PS: Oh, before I forget. When I do see this woman and/or her husband, what is the BEST thing I could do? I am open to any suggestions that come my way. Do I blank her? Do I tell her what I think of her and her ask her to pay our £4 000 bill?

Someone suggested telling her we had decided to rent our property out. To students. That are a heavy metal band. Called 'Satan's Crotch.' Or to an escort agency.

PPS: Unrelated funny story: Tweedy drove to the supermarket on Friday night in her onesie. She broke down in the tesco parking lot.Of course she did. Had to call the AA to collect her.
Things got all Breaking Bad and she gave her car one last try, and with luck, it started, so she managed to get the car back to her own driveway. But that's why one should never wear a onesie outside the house, in case you have thought about doing it. Which I have. Several times. A day.


Cassey Toi said...

Just go with the lots of inside noise, it's not like you can avoid that anyway. She's not going to care about the money you guys have already spent.

default said...

SimonSays electronic means can be found to achieve the same end ;-)

BiancaP said...

Your revenge is coming soon - your twins! Do give up hope for your plans to extend just yet - your French neighbours will probably want to move in about 6 months time!

BiancaP said...

That should read 'don't give up hope'

Kate said...

When you do start making a noise, just remember to open the doors and windows that face her house so the noise has somewhere to escape to. No point in making all that noise, with sanders and hammering if you keep it inside the house. And, when the twins are crying, walk them past her house to calm them down. Revenge is a bitch - enjoy it!

Unknown said...

First things first - my father's cousin (some relation of mine!) had twins whilst living in a cosy semi-detached house in Hurst... I visited many years later, once they'd made renovations to be able to accommodate growing twin boys, however her tiny study is where they were first lain to sleep - it was tiny - but she said the advantage of it as a nursery was that she could give attention to both of them in their cribs at the same time. You know if one cries, both will... everything was reachable. So maybe see the small start as a blessing...

In terms of annoying neighbour - have a nice braai, make sure lots of meat and smoke (invite the nice neighbours over so they benefit!!)...

Have any friends with yappy dogs that can visit during the day? or whenever it will be most inconvenient.

if you know anyone with a drum set, invite them to use the place (when you are at work or out) for practise. Especially useful if all other neighbours work/have a life!!
Good luck

Melissa said...

For maximum guilt trip, I would attempt a sad, solitary tear. Particularly if her husband is around. Most people are able to dig in their heels if under attack - guilt is a stronger tool. And as Bianca said, once the babies are born, if she likes silence she will soon be gone.

Bug Eyed said...

Perhaps the sad, solitary tear together with how much you were hoping to limit the noise for HER once the twins arrive, by renovating so that you could keep the noise as far from her as possible.

Whilst underlining that it'll be a few months of building noise, versus at least a few years of crying at all hours of the day and night. Choice is hers!

Flarkit said...

The 1812 overture. Loudly. Repeatedly. Daily.

Pebbles said...

Barney, and Tellytubbies(sp?), consistently, loudly, speakers pointing towards her side. And good earplugs for you of course.

Peas on Toast said...

Hha thanks everyone for the advice!

You have helped me realise that in fact, yes, my revenge is coming whether intended or not - my babies are going to make a bloody racquet and with not much reprieve.

i haven't seen her yet, so here's hoping it stays that way xx

MeeA said...

What. A. Bitch!

Your best revenge would be just to be insanely happy in spite of her. Whenever you see her and/or her wanker husband, make sure you look utterly thrilled with life - it'll drive her batshit crazy, promise! ;)

Also, I'm with all the other folks who've said that when your babies arrive, she's in for (many) a rude awakening!