The New Neighbours (Ausie style)


Hooray!! She’s back Our Audrey: Mrs Audrey Sanderson (nee Tyres) East Leeds Lass (Ellerby Lane School ) now living in OZ.

The New Neighbours (Aussie Style)

My closest neighbours have lived in the same street as I for many, many years. Only one house has been bought and sold many times. Goodness knows why, it has the same view as we have, hears as much noise from the traffic as we do and subject to the same council rates and taxes as we do.
Not all the new owners wanted to live in the house. Lucky, lucky me they bought it for an investment and it is situated slap bang next door to me. Before being rented out the new owner was going to do some renovations. This was long before out T.V. channels were bombarded with demolitions and re-builds.

The suburb is a very nice area close to a major shopping centre, plenty of schools, lots of sporting clubs and playing fields, heaps of restaurants and very close to the train line. Local trains are used more than busses as a means of public transport.

The original owner had lived beside me for 20 years and it was very sad to see her and her two adult children leave. Their life style had changed and Mum was going into business down on The Gold Coast.

The new owner arrived early on Saturday morning with two other men of the same age, late 30s early 40s. Lots of banging and clanging before 7 a.m. was not a good idea to endear himself to the rest of the neighbours. The day starts early for 90% of Australians compared to the english style of living. By 8:30 a.m. all business are working at top speed. Schools also start at the same time and finish at 3 p.m. The councils do insist no outside work such as building sites etc. start work before 7 a.m. Looks like Mr. Property owner next door thinks rules are for everyone else and he will do what he likes. No good my standing on my verandah yelling at them and adding to the noise. The neighbours would all have been well and truly wide awake after they had emptied the small ute they’d arrived in. A Ute? short for utility truck and it has a cabin usually big enough for 2 and the back is an open trailer. Looks like a van with the backend bit with no roof. A one man business of plumbers, electricians, carpenter used to use them in the era I’m talking about. Long before mobile phones, the internet and credit cards for every day use.
They looked as if they were going to remodel the front and back yards in one day with two lawn mowers, a chain saw, Heaps of thick rope?? and garden hoses galore. plus enough shovels and spades to build another botanical garden. After littering the front yard with all this machinery they went into the house and all was quiet.

I had a quick shower and got dressed. It was going to be a long day and knew I would have a headache by nightfall. I had only just gone back into my kitchen when there was a knock on the back door. Thought it was my son who had recently left home as he’d got married. Everyone else uses the front door. I’m speaking as I unlocked the door ” What’s wrong ? ” he lives near my place but it was early for him to be visiting. I was surprised to see a chubby fella dressed in faded jeans, a red check flannelette shirt holding an electric jug. ” I’m the new owner of next door and asking a favour of you already. Would you mind boiling this jug for me as I forgot to get the power switched on and my men are in need of coffee before they start work ” I plugged the jug into the socket in the kitchen and he followed me giving my dining area a good look over. The kitchen at one end with a large slice of the kitchen bench top dividing the area between kitchen and dining room. I’m not thrilled when strangers start checking my house out but could hardly stop myself laughing when I turned to face him and saw him strutting up and down between both areas with his thumbs tucked into the waistband of his jeans doing a bad impersonation of John Wayne. Akubra hats are pure Australian. They are not a fashion statement. They have a wide brim and keep the sun off your head and back of your neck. They are worn by everyone, man. woman and child way-out in the outback where there is no shade at all and degrees of 40+ all summer long. You do see men wearing them in the city now and again but it’s mostly tourists or Aussie jerks who think it makes them look like Hugh Jackman or Mel Gibson. It makes them look ridicules. Guys who are born and bred in the small country towns and the outback would never ever wear the hat indoors and are perfect gentlemen to ladies of any age. This miniature version of John Wayne looked as if he’d lost his horse when he stood still and placed a wide space between his feet or maybe his jeans were too tight. He said he was going to transform the yard and get rid of the umbrella tree in the far corner of the back yard as it wasn’t going to clog the drains with it’s roots. Umbrella trees have a bad name for invading underground water pipes/ I told him the roots of all the trees on the fence line of all the back yards go out under the road at the back of our houses. When I moved in here there wasn’t a blade of grass and only 12 houses dotted over the area. We planted umbrella trees because they grow fast and they had to survive on rain water. Tree roots follow the water supply and we have monsoon drains in the gutters at the edge of the road. He didn’t listen to a word I said. I told him the layout of the water and sewerage pipes in his yard, where the stop tap was, and he started puffing out his chest saying things were going to be different. Hmmm, I have a brother like him, knows everything and infact knows nothing.
I said I hoped they enjoyed their coffee but I was going out in a couple of hours so perhaps he’d better ask the neighbours on the other side of his house if they needed hot water again.
It wasn’t long before both motor mowers started up. The area is called Arana Hills and as the name suggests it is hilly. Not mountainous but all the yards slope. I looked out the front windows to see what HIS men were doing. Both of them a lot slimmer than J.W. but the same uniform, faded jeans, check flannelette shirts but one green plaid and the other blue plaid. They didn’t wear hats. They didn’t know how to cut grass either. Instead of mowing sideways across the slope they were pushing the mowers up and down. It was like pushing a truck up hill and running like hell to keep up with on the down hill run. They abandon it and told boss man they’re going to start chopping down the umbrella tree. They didn’t tell him, they yelled at him from the yard, boss man was upstairs in the house, he yelled his answer to them without coming downstairs. They’d thrown a wheelbarrow out of the ute earlier on but spell bound by now I watched them carry heaps and heaps of thick rope from the front to the back yard. Wearily they sauntered back for the chain saw, a can of fuel, an extension ladder and a bag full of what I presumed was cleaning cloths. Their day job was certainly not gardening.
All quiet once more I took advantage of the situation and made myself toasted sandwiches and coffee. I was fascinated what they were going to do next.
A little bit more awkward for me to watch when they were in the back yard. I had to watch through the kitchen windows as I didn’t want them to see me. God knows what they would have done if they thought they had an audience. Maybe think the were in a movie and start playing Tarzan. The only windows in that part of the house are over the kitchen sink.
I wish I’d have had a video camera back thenYOU would not BELIEVE how they missed having serious accidents. They started off just after lunch. It took the 3 of them a fair time to sort out the ropes. Everybody wanted to be chief and nobody want to be an indian. They were all giving orders left, right and centre of how to place the rope to stop it getting tangled. I couldn’t wait to see who was going to climb into the tree. Eventually they got sorted and boss man and one of the other guys tied the rope round the poor soul who drew the short straw. I’m no expert but I would have though a proper harness would have been better than just relying on how good the others were at tying knots and holding on to the lose end of the rope. I wasn’t laughing as the brave little soul started climbing the ladder. Boss man yelled at him he had forgotten the chain saw. He yelled back at him to climb up behind him and hand it to him when he got sat astride the branch. I knew that wasn’t going to happen. Boss man was the order giver, the one who told him he was doing a great job and then took the glory if and when jobs got finished. Trees in yards don’t look very tall until you see them from the top. You should never attempt to chop them down if no one with you hasn’t got any experience. First rule when you climb to where you are going to start chopping is sit across the thick branch with your back to the trunk of the tree, not facing it. One of the Shep, Larry and Mo team Yelled at the guy up the tree he was facing the wrong way.
Man up the tree ” I’m sorry if it’s offending you but you can swap place anytime you like “
Man on the ground ” I’m only trying to save you falling out of the tree knuckle head. You’re sitting on the bit you are about to cut and you’re going to come crashing down with the branch you’ve chopped “
From the top of the tree ” There you go again being a smart arse “
From his mate on the ground ” Suit yourself stupid bastard. I’ll be the one still standing on my feet when you are on your way to the hospital “
” Sorry. A bit nervous up here. Send up the chain saw and lets get this over and done with “
Boss man had to tie the chain saw to another rope and haul it up to him. No he didn’t use a thinner rope and two inch thick one was not working as planned. A running commentary from the man up the tree how everything looked different and how great it must be to be able to fly like a bird and go anywhere you liked. Man on the ground started playing with the rope he held…the one his mate up the tree was fastened to. The voice up above hidden by the leaves yelled at him to stop yanking on the rope or he’d make sure he fell on top of him if he got pulled off the branch. Boss man had put the chain saw into a hessian bag and tied it to the rope with a plastic clothes line. When it reached the man in the tree he yelled down to him ” No need to go to the trouble of wrapping it up hauling it up would have done and the job be half done by now.”
I thought any minute now they’ll be having another smoke and if they don’t get a move on the birds will be coming back to roost for the night. I couldn’t see the two on the ground hanging around if the birds started swooping trying to get the guy out of their tree. The chain saw roared into life and all action down on the ground. The mate hanging onto the rope his eyes never leaving his mate up the tree. Boss man was running from side to side of the tree yelling orders of which branch to cut next. Shades of Shep, Larry and Mo Saturday afternoon at the movies.
When all the branches within reach had been chopped down Boss man told him to come down a few feet and start sawing again.
” Tell you what boss. Seeing as you’re the expert why don’t you show us how it’s done and I can stand down there telling you which bit to chop off “
O Dear. Everyone getting tired and realised it is not such a good game after all. The tree lopper said he’d had enough and was coming down. Boss man said they would come back the next day and finish the job. Both mates said he was on his own. They didn’t mind doing him a favour but didn’t think they’d have to risk life and limb. Boss man got real angry and said he’s finish the job himself. He grabbed the can of fuel and emptied it all over the tree, lit a bit of paper and threw it onto the fuel. Whoosh, up the flames went before you could bat an eyelid. Having an open fire in suburban yards had been banned for years. The smell of smoke neighbours came running with garden hoses gushing full pelt. As soon as the fire was doused they asked who’d lit it. no one spoke but the two mates stepped away from the boss man and the neighbours threatened him with a good hiding if he didn’t leave the area and if he came back they would call the cops.

A few weeks later a friend of mine asked if the house next door had been bought by a short, arrogant fella by the name of N>>>>>>> son. I said I had no idea what his name was and why was she asking. She said one of her married daughters had told her one of her neighbours was bragging about the house he’d just bought in Arana Hills and was going to be able to retire soon and live off the house rent he was charging. I asked if her daughter was friendly with him. She answered Jan couldn’t stand the sight of him and someone else who worked with him had said he nearly got killed a few weeks earlier as a reversing truck nearly ran him over.
” My God! What sort of work does he do? “
He was some sort of Union Boss down on the wharfs.
This was not 1930s in Chicago with Al Capone and company. This was the 1980s and Brisbane was still like a country town for most of us. A few years later we found out why the city seemed such a sleepy place. The Police Commissioner and a whole lot of his chums were all behind bars for running the place like Dodge City.
Gee Whizz. It was never like this in Charlton Place

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5 Responses to “The New Neighbours (Ausie style)”

  1. Douglas Farnill Says:

    Thanks you Audrey. No trees to chop down in Charlton Place were there? But, just as you had a great show going on outside your kitchen window, there were always shows going on in the street of the Charltons and Glensdales. We had a couple of neighbors who keep constant watch, I think they alternated shifts to make it a 24/7 operation, and they knew everything about everyone. The real art was in being able to look out without being seen, no twitch of the curtain or sudden movement. They would have had a ball if they could have had your vantage point from your kitchen window, and they would have been on the phone quick smart to the relevant authorities. But they would have had the good Leeds Bobbies and not the Queensland Police whose reputation for corruption in those days was huge. Good to see you back.

  2. peterwwood Says:

    I love it when you ex pats can home in across the world to scruffy (lovely) old charlton Place

  3. Edward Blackwell Says:

    hiya Audrey glad to see your back. I’ve tried to contact you several times but never seemed to get through, A great tale as usual i must say you’ve had some unusual Neighbours,I was born next door to your Nana’s in Devon Street. lol…not been too well myself over the last 18 months, troubled time we’re living in, but they will improve they have to fantastic to hear from you , keep em coming, lots of love….xx.

  4. Eric Says:

    Welcome back Audrey. Good to see you’re still in form with another great yarn, well relayed as usual.
    We have a tv programme here called “You’ve been framed” which is a series of clips of people getting up to silly & often dangerous stunts. You’d be surprised ( or maybe not) of the number of dopes sitting at the wrong end of a branch whilst cutting through it with a chain saw, just like your new neighbours. Chain saws often seem to bring out the lunatic fringe & a friend of ours who used to work in A&E says chain saw injuries are some of the most common.
    You’re correct, Charlton Place was never like gangster era Chicago but, it’s not too far off now.

  5. peterwwood Says:

    Audrey, who is having trouble getting her computer to leave comments on the blog has asked me to thank folk who have left comments on her tale, especially Eric and Eddy..

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