12.17.2007

Who steals little picnic tables?

We arrived home from the pub and dropping our Gav off around 3:00am on Sunday. I was in a pretty good mood, despite being sick and stressed last week I think I loosened up enough to blow off some steam. As we opened the door Mr. Me noticed something was missing. Our little table. We had this little picnic table outside our door that we used for BBQs and outdoor Scrabble. It's gone now.

We suspect it was Sex Offender Steve who, for whatever reason, decided it now belongs to him. It was one of the few things we told him to leave alone but he has quite a distorted sense of what's his and what's ours. The things we asked him to leave alone he didn't, just proceeded as he pleased with no consideration for how we felt.

Here's what we told him to leave alone:

  • The trees. (Cut Down.)


  • Our chairs (were in his yard, we have them back now.)


  • Our paving stones (sold/given to his brother)


  • Our stupid little table (now missing.)


  • I lost it, I'm not proud. But living above this guy has me in a state most of the time now. I'm nervous in case one of the local plebs decides to exact some justice, I hate him and the very sight makes me feel ill.

    A long time ago the Mr. said he could use our yard. As a result his DIY stuff is all over the place, like everywhere you look is a piece of wood or a tool of some kind. So now our little table is gone, I decided he can't use our yard anymore and tossed as much as I could manage back over the fence.

    It's stupid, but the picnic table was the last straw. We hadn't done anything to him. We haven't done anything to deserve having our things stolen. But he did it anyway.

    I guess 16 years inside doesn't teach you how to live with other people.

    After my fit of 'get out!' we went to bed where I tried my best to fall asleep.

    But that dream soon evaporated, within about 10-15 minutes I heard car doors slam. He called the police.

    They came around and talked to us. I told them I was upset about our little table being stolen and Sex Offender Steve had stolen things from us before. They asked about how the yards are divided and I explained the back bit was ours. They seemed satisfied and left (after laughing when I burst into tears and apologized as I'd drunk too much gin.)

    I slept poorly on Sunday. I'm so anxious, so angry, so drained, so frustrated. I hate this so much. This is my home. It's horrible, but it's mine.

    12.11.2007

    The vigilantes are here

    Morning window

    When I found out about this I went through a fair spectrum of negative emotion. The most dominating one was fear. What had Steve done to get 16 years? The rumor on the estate is it had something to do with disfigurement. What did the girl look like now? Suddenly he changed from being the inconsiderate DIY fanatic to being a sinister figure of violence.

    But mostly the fear wasn't from him directly. Our neighborhood isn't a Guardian reading middle class party. It's more working class, the types that gladly take justice into their own hands. I could almost hear the rallying cries around me from last Tuesday. Though they may be friends with thieves and drug dealers, they aren't rapists. And rapists are different.

    We thought we'd made it through the worst. It's been a week since we had a note slipped to us from a friend about what he is. Since then the police park outside our flat a lot. It comforts and scares us. I'm not used to such a high police presence. We thought they came to check up on Steve, make sure he was where he said he was and not because of any external threat. What we didn't anticipate is vigilante-ism can start quietly.

    Last night was a literal breaking point. I was playing Civ IV and listening to Have I got news for you. I've had difficulty unwinding at home lately, I need a lot of distraction to relax. And just as I fended off the barbarian hordes an almighty crash shook the floor. We hoped it was just stupidity from downstairs. It's common enough for our neighbor to fall on something or knock down a shelf. He enjoys DIY projects, but isn't particularly graceful about them. When he tried to hack into a tree in our backyard he broke his collarbone. We looked out the window and saw nothing but an empty street and our neighbor across the road peering out of his window. It's that kind of place.

    From our angle we couldn't see anything wrong. My first concern was our car. It sat directly in front of his door. But it looked fine, the evening frost was undisturbed. A little while later I saw headlights shine on the small brick water building next to our block of flats. A policeman got out and went downstairs.

    We investigated and found two large holes in our neighbor's windows. He was bricked. A clear message for him to get out. The police officer came to our flat and suggested that though this kind of violence against him is kind of satisfying, we're in danger. I know. Our consolation at this point is we haven't received any kind of threatening letters or phone calls. The footprints in the grass suggested they'd come close enough to aim accurately. They know who they're after and it isn't us.

    What concerns me anyway is we might get caught in the crossfire. The more this escalates, the more perilous living in our home becomes. The more fearful I become. But not because of what the man downstairs did, because of the people trying to do good by driving him out. I'm sure that's what they want. It's what I want too. I just wish there was a way to make that happen with out endangering innocent people. Like me.

    12.06.2007

    My neighbor is a rapist.

    Tuesday evening Andy-Across-The-Road delivered some strange news. News you could verify.

    My neighbor is a convicted rapist.

    Specifically, this neighbor.

    I'm very, very conflicted about this. On one hand, he served a 16 year sentence. His time is done, finished, debt to society served. On the other hand, the part of me that fantasizes about kicking him in the nuts for cutting down the trees in our yard wants to beat him over the head with a shovel. And a 16 year sentence for rape seems pretty steep.

    I'm not really sure how you resolve feelings like this. Petty criminals I can handle. Our neighborhood is rife with car thieves, robbers and drug dealers. I know. But the drug they deal is pot. The cars they steal are from other parts of Wigan. The robberies were of post offices and banks. I can deal with those things.

    But sexual violence makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. It's a primal thing, one you can't overcome just by being educated. And if anything, it's the education that sickens you.

    8.01.2007

    Taking Liberties

    Our back garden better resembles a nature preserve. Due to scheduling conflicts (too busy drinking, cavorting, gaming, reading, working, studying, talktalkhelling) we don't have a lot of time to deal with it. So when our downstairs neighbor moved in last fall Mr. Me decided to let him have it. When he told me, the dark mist of 'this isn't going to end well' went down over my eyes. Even though our brownspace wasn't exactly a haven of gardening, it was ours and set definite boundaries. I couldn't put my finger on it but I knew there were problems afoot.

    Sure enough, the new neighbor (designated DIY Steve) has started taking liberties. Mr. Me and I moved some paving stones to a small area under a tree so we could have tiny BBQs during the summer. We're not big outside people, crossing that threshold between inside (where we can pretend we don't live in the ghetto) and outside is difficult when you have sub prime examples of humanity all around. Mr. Me told him the only thing not to move were these stones. Leave the area alone.

    I'm not the most observant of people. For the most part when it's not mini-BBQ time I'm fairly oblivious to small changes in the local environment. But for the last few weeks I've had a feeling something is missing and today I worked it out. DIY Steve gave our paving stones away to some random family member. This is on top of having a bonfire at 11:30pm last night.

    I wish it wasn't true that a vast majority of people will take the mile if given an inch. But it so is. Part of me wants to scream in frustration, part of me wants to live in a cave with nothing to give or take. I dislike being a selfish, closed individual. My nature is to help and be generous but every time someone chips away at my generosity, some part of me just flails and dies.