Wednesday, May 23, 2007


So we just had our Residents Association Annual General Meeting. This grand sounding event is one I both look forward to and dread with equal measure. Our little drive gets together once a year to confirm our fees and discuss weighty matters. The bit I dread. Then the wine gets broken open and we get down to a serious gossip session. The bit I love.

It’s a necessary thing. Our few houses own in common a drive, a footpath and a little strip of woods. We get together a couple times a year to do the necessary maintenance, but put aside our fees to purchase insurance (it’s a private drive, if any idiot gets hurt, we’re liable) and to cover the fateful day when we have to re-tarmac it.

I was chairman for a good number of years, then handed it off to another neighbour. He seems to quite enjoy the job (he’s a property developer descended from a long line of county property developers (need I say more?)). An agenda is produced, a weighty financial report distributed and for afters he’ll produce a five to ten page set of minutes.

Our agenda consisted of 10 minutes going over the financials, 15 minutes of discussing if the time has finally come to redo the drive (it hasn’t, but we’re going to get quotes for next years meeting), 34 minutes (yes I timed it, you have to find your pleasure in these things) discussing a particular tree in our bit of woods (you see its overhanging a local public footpath, and is therefore “a danger to the public” (and our responsibility if it fell on anyone’s head)), and an astonishing 38 minutes discussing walkers illegally skirting the corn field behind a number of the properties.

This gets discussed pretty well every year. Walkers. They are a bane to civilised county life you see. They walk, and occasionally talk. They are a disturbance to the secluded privacy our drive is supposed to be. What they do is actually illegal, but not to us. The farmer who runs the field doesn’t particularly care. So long as they keep to the verge his crop is just fine. The estate who owns the land does care, and actually has erected barbed wire fencing. People just climb over it, its been cut twice.

However, after all that discussion, some quite heated, it was determined there really wasn’t much we can do. The meeting therefore concluded and the wine was broken into. Hurrah.

I love my neighbours, I really do. They are as fine a collection of little England as can be found. As well as said property developer (he really is a third generation property developer too), we have a graphic artist (retired), a former mechanical engineer and his lovely wife (retired), the widow of a city lawyer (who at the age of 82 still plays tennis twice every week), a garage mechanic and his secretary wife (they inherited the house), a man who made his millions running a pop academy (I kid you not, he’s a mate and a hell of a laugh) and his trophy wife (she’s in her late forties, looks like her early thirties and LL suspects the help of a surgeon, she’s still great fun to be around), a chartered surveyer and his holistic healing wife (our best friends), and a chairman of one of the big banks with his evangelist wife (she’s a great laugh, LL loves her, just don’t get her talking about the local church which she’s convinced is cursed and used for satanic masses (I kid you not, she’s run prayer groups to cleanse it and all)).

As a neighbourhood we get together far too seldom. There are a couple we see regularly, but most we only really talk to in passing, or at this event. We’ve run a few get togethers at our house, but no one else reciprocates, so we kind of gave up. So the drinks after the meeting are our primary chance to socialise and gossip. It was good fun.


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