Sunday 2 May 2010

All Quiet on the West Finchley Front


An eerie silence has fallen over the neighbourhood, broken only by the sound of Tory party canvassers tiptoing past our house, in an attempt to dodge the bullets. Well, in truth, as the saying goes, I have no gun: but I can spit.

For five nights now, I have actually been able to sleep in my own bed, without fear of being woken up by the noise of a gang of louts next door at one, two, three in the morning. What bliss. Of course I do miss the Ikea camp bed in the kitchen, and the strangely hypnotic sound of the fridge and the boiler, and worrying about the thing that bangs on the living room door, and wondering whether it wanders about downstairs at night, and the nightmares and sleepless nights worrying about what on earth we are going to do - oh and the occasional sound of the Smiths and their yob friends vomiting out of their kitchen window.

The Angry cat is very happy to be allowed back to sleep once more in his rightful place on top of the pile of ironing in the kitchen and is also enjoying nipping over to the Smith's 'garden' to leave his own fragrant token of appreciation, with my blessing. As for the 'parting gift' thoughtfully left for us by the Sniths in the middle of the night, this is being retained for forensic inspection by the local CID (Crap on the neighbours' doorstep Investigation Department).It will then be forwarded to a more appropriate recipient, with our good wishes.

Mr Angry has at last today donned protective clothing, safety goggles, and a pair of oven gloves and sat down to read this blog in the privacy of the dining room. From the strange noises which could be heard from behind the closed door it was impossible to distinguish whether or not he was laughing or crying.

The Angry son and daughter don't quite believe it is all over: actually, nor do their parents, and of course it may not be, if Barnet decides, as it has repeatedly stated, that it will not rule out placing another family with the outrageously behaved owners of the neighbouring property. So far the owners have not shown up at the house. I would like to think that they are too ashamed, but I doubt it.

I think it will take weeks, if not months, before we actually stop twitching and jumping at every sound in the street, thinking the Smiths have rolled up again in their car, slamming the car doors, the front door, constantly in and out, running about the house yelling abuse at each other, fighting, swearing, Mrs Smith threatening her kids with a whack, screaming at them, the boys screaming abuse back at her. Wonder what her new neighbours make of them all? Of course, bearing in mind the nature of the place they have gone to, it may well be that Tracey Smith is ringing up to complain about the people next door. Wouldn't that be amusing?

I don't think we will ever be the same family we were before all this started. It just went on too long, and had too profound an impact. I bitterly regret the effect this has had on all of us but particularly on my children's lives and I can't forgive those responsible for creating and prolonging the situation. The fact that some of them are standing for election as Conservative party candidates this coming week is just too much, and if this blog has persuaded just one person not to vote for these fools it will have been worth it.

Someone has asked if Mrs Angry will now become more temperate. Funny. Maybe. But not yet, Mr S. There are a few things that need seeing to first.

I want compensation from Barnet Council for all the distress the last sixteen months has caused us, and the lasting damage not just to us, but to the value of our home.

I want Barnet to be forced to acknowledge the need for a proper boroughwide antisocial behaviour policy, put into practice by a fully resourced and specifically designated team of officers, and effective procedures for identifying and reporting ASB.

I suggest that there needs to be a review of the way in which the council works, or fails to work, with the police in combating ASB, and improved working practices which will help support the victims of such behaviour rather than the perpetrators. The emergency police response can be improved by as, suggested in a recent report, an improved system of identifying and prioritising calls from the victims of long running ASB cases, and some way of redistributing calls to SNTeams off duty is necessary too.

Barnet Council has already admitted messing up the complaint we made to them in regard to our situation, and the way it was being handled: this 'mess up' unnecessarily and severely prolonged the distress we endured and it seems evident that a review of the way in which they deal with complaints is urgently needed. Also evident is that our experience of the mishandling of Freedom of Information Requests is not in any way unique and appears to be symptomatic of a disturbingly inefficient management of data and information, to put it politely, and don't you agree, DCMD? Let's hope that a new administration, or perhaps the Information Commissioner, will order a full review of this issue too.

It's hard to explain how it feels right now to be liberated at last from the tyranny of the Smiths and their hangers on. I think we are still in a state of shock: or maybe post traumatic stress disorder.

A couple of years ago we were in Normandy, and visited the D Day landing beaches. and other WW2 sites, including a guilty trip to Caen, flattened by the efforts of Mr Angry senior and a Lancaster bomber, in order to aid the allied invasion. I was struck by the posters still displayed, so many years later, everywhere in the villages in the area, expressing gratitude to those who had freed them: 'Merci a nos liberateurs'. Well, I'm not comparing our experience to five years of Nazi occupation but boy can I sympathise with their long lasting sense of relief now.

Alors: merci encore a nos liberateurs, et 'va te faire foutre' aux autres ...

Et vive la resistance.


Mrs Angry said...

NB: Historical footnote. A D Day veteran once told me that after he had landed in France, jumped off a boat into the icy sea, holding his gun aloft, waded towards the beach, watched the man in front of him drown when the weight of his kit dragged him into the water,crawled inch by inch on his stomach slong the sand past bloody corpses, a dead man with staring eyes in the remains of a mini sub, body parts and other horrific sights, all the while dodging enemy fire and shelling, eventually he and his comrades made it to the relative safety of the dunes and up to the fields beyond, only to be met by a French farmer and his wife berating them for ruining their crops. Gratitude is not always as apparent as it should be: I hope that isn't true in our case.

Mrs Angry said...

PS Mr Angry has had to take me to task for referring to his father's plane as a Lancashire Bomber: obviously I was thinking of hot pots and trying to avoid thinking of planes, after too many trips to the RAF museum, RAF Duxford etc etc etc yawn