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The Scrivener: Not In Our Street

A new house near to good schools, two bathrooms, the usual appointments…and no common land.

Who would welcome common land in their street?

Brian Barratt tells of the development that has set his neighbourhood a-talking.

For more of Brian’s unsurpassably readable columns please click on http://www.openwriting.com/archives/the_scrivener/

And do visit his fascinating Web site The Brain Rummager www.alphalink.com.au/~umbidas/

We've been watching the construction of two home units on the other side of the road. After many delays, the job is finished. The front unit is now for sale. It's advertised as being in two important School Zones, having two bathrooms and more than the usual appointments, and having no common land. That bit sounds good — no common land.

This is a placid little crescent, very green-tree and song-bird and old-people. Construction of those home units has been going on for far too long. The noise of trucks, vans, cars, earth movers, cement mixers, and all that sort of thing, has disturbed our peace. A few months ago, we thought the job had been finished. But oh no.

The City Council deemed that not enough trees had been planted at the front. Landscape gardeners turned up, and did the necessary. Aha, we thought, that's it. No, not yet. There was a problem in the roof. Possums had found their way in. The possum controllers were called. They spent several days helping the possums (who lived here first anyway) to move out to alternative accommodation.

Well, now it's all finished, we said. Famous last words. There was something wrong with the footpath. The City Council wasn't satisfied. Along came the workmen, sorry, workpersons, to dig up two sections. They surrounded them with that merry bright red netting stuff, and disappeared.

Then it was the storm-water drain. Evidently there was an underground leak. The Water people came and dug some more holes. No bright red netting stuff this time. They surrounded the main hole with a sort of iron fence in a rather garish shade of bright yellow. And they disappeared. It was three or four weeks before those jobs were finished and the holes filled.

Lace curtains have been twitching. My neighbour and I, both of us Aged Pensioners, have been following all this with interest. Almost daily, we compared notes on our latest observations. At a time when there were about ten vehicles in the street, all something to do with the building, we came up with a wonderful idea. These busy people must get hungry and thirsty — let's serve genteel Devonshire Teas on our front lawns!

We discussed putting out several small tables, with chairs, and nice white table-cloths, and some jolly umbrellas to shield diners from sun and rain. We wouldn't need to supply a toilet, as they already had one of those Portaloo things on the building site. Not a nice sight, but one learns to tolerate these things. When the people who rent them out came to collect it, and loaded it onto the back of a truck alongside five others, we hoped that nobody was making use of it at the time. It would no doubt have alarmed an occupant to be hauled into the air while doing, er, private business.

Of course, we wouldn't have wanted the riff-raff coming for our Devonshire Teas. Our customers would need to be a better class of person, naturally. One has to uphold the standards of the crescent, don't you know. We're not snobs, of course. It's just that we don't want common people taking our ambience. And that's why we are all so relieved that the home unit which is now for sale has no common land. Dear me, we wouldn't want any of that in our street, would we?

© Copyright Brian Barratt 2008.


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