Sunday, March 23, 2008

Weather, My Brit Boy and the Chav-Bucks

Today is a quiet day here. This weather has been chameleon-like all weekend. We have had hail, snow, strong winds, and ominous clouds….and yes, we have had little sneak peeks of the sun. And you might say as a girl raised in the southern US that I wasn’t accustomed to such strange weather. Well actually, we have quite quickly changing and varied weather there too, with your odd tornado warning thrown in here and there. I have even been stranded during a snowstorm in 1993 in March. So the little spring-loving bunnies had to burrow right back into their holes, pull the covers around them and say to their other wilderness friends, “Hey, wake me up when it’s safe to poke my head out again.” Oh by the way, yeah, I got stuck in a snow drift back in 1993, but I rocked it and saved myself and got out of there. (smile) Girl Power! So the weather in England hasn’t been such a terrible shock all the time to me, but I have to admit there have been some days when I stepped outside and thought to say to the wind, “Whew, hold your horses Mr. Freeze, remember….southern girl here. I have to work up to taking this hit.” Right at this moment it looks kind of spring-like outside, the clouds have rolled away and we are having some nice sunshine. And for the sake of being fair, I will say that even though some people may think that it rains 24/7 in England, it’s not true, and I have been a witness to some truly gloriously sunny days here and those are the moments that awaken my memories of back home. My mom used to love to get outside when it was sunny and tend her plants in her garden. So it always makes me smile.

I was thinking. I have mentioned my cute husband in past entries and have just simply referred to him as my hubby or my husband. Those are correct titles and all, but both names also don’t convey my humor-loving soul mate, that is my husband and the way we lovingly refer to each other. As most couples do, we have various nicknames for each other. So in that same vein of fun and humor that me and my husband share, I am going to from now on in my blog refer to him by one of my nicknames for him. He is fine with this, so don’t worry, I am not trampling on anything here. (smile) So my cute hubby will forevermore be referred to in blog world as “My Brit Boy” or just “Brit Boy”. He calls me his “Americano Girl”, so we play with our transatlantic bond. Brit Boy and I are best friends, so he will definitely show up a lot in my entries here. Therefore, he just has to have a name. (smile)

In other news, well, I mentioned the other day about the older lady next door who never speaks to us, but she surprised the heck out of us and brought our wheelie bin (garbage can) back to our door for us. I was so touched and thought that maybe it was a bit of Easter kindness or something taking over, so I wanted to pounce on it and take the opportunity to extend an olive branch to her. I wrote her a short thank you note on a nice card that I had and wished her a happy Easter. So I thought that there might be a chance that she may show up again here in my blog if we get to be more neighborly with each other. I haven’t seen or heard from her since I put the card through her mail slot, but I try to hold out hope. I’m sure she is a lovely lady. Therefore, since I am in a naming mood, I decided that she deserved a name here too. Brit Boy and I don’t know her real name, but we have affectionately called her Mrs. Doodah, because it is sort of a humming sounding word, so it brings to mind a light and airy thought. And whenever we do find out her real name, we can discard it easier than if we had just called her a more ubiquitous surname like Smith. I don’t know if that makes sense to anyone else, but hey, it’s one theory. (smile) I’ll keep you posted if we become fast friends. I hope so. Until then, Mrs. Doodah it is.

On the other side of us we also have some interesting neighbors for other reasons. Let me explain. We live in a small village in Wiltshire which is within walking distance of meadows and things. A lot of the houses here and in other areas in England are what they call a terrace house. So we share one structure with five other houses. Each house is separate, but they are attached to each other. Back home we would call this a row house. So Mrs. Doodah is at the end of the terrace and then we are next and then on the other side of us are our less than cordial neighbors.

Well, Brit Boy and I have had a few run-ins with our other neighbors. I guess that our stories are like many people everywhere who have run-ins from time with their neighbors, so we are no exception. They always seem to be nailing something or drilling something and it is always into the wall that joins with our house. Of course. Their house is the same size as ours and that isn’t tremendously big, but they do enough DIY on that house that you would think that they have a five story house. And we understand that in living this close to others you are going to have to learn to be understanding of others. So we have learned to live with it even though they decide to do the work at night or early on Sunday morning. I’m not even exaggerating here. And they are fond of deciding to have spontaneous parties with their friends late at night every once in a while, but I will be fair and say that that is not everyday, but just enough to annoy when I tell you what they have done to us. But still we try to play it cool.

So about a year ago, we had a fierce storm here and we had gale force winds and it blew our shared fence down. Well, we are renting our house currently, so we have to let the letting agents know when things go wrong so that they can let the landlord know. Therefore, we are at the mercy of paperwork when things go wrong sometimes. So the day that it happened, we were planning to go over and speak with our “lovely” neighbors, but they beat us to it. The lady part of this “fun” couple comes over with her cigarette in hand, and asks when we are going to fix the fence and had this sour expression on her face. This was like twenty minutes after it happened. She actually exhaled smoke into our faces on purpose at our front door. I told Brit Boy that at that point, I was ready to “go country girl on her”….take off my earrings, step out of my shoes and challenge her to a good old fashioned butt kicking on our front lawn. (laugh) But it was only a fantasy. I haven’t done that kind of thing since I was thirteen.

Long story short, we told her it was out of our hands but we would be reporting it. Finally, after a while, the fence was fixed. Thank God. But our lovely lady neighbor decided to call the letting agents and reported us for having a dog in our house because she thought she saw one in our garden when the fence was down. Get real. Talk about being nosy and a busybody. Our lease says we can’t have any pets and we definitely don’t have a dog, except a toy dog Brit Boy gave me when I arrived here in England. His name is Woody and Woody was definitely not cruising around the back garden hiding his bone. And the kicker was when the letting agents actually took her word for it and wanted to do an inspection. So we took things in hand at that moment and made sure we weren’t going to be bullied. We went to the letting agents in person and told them that we have a nosy neighbor who was fabricating stories. They saw reason and are now aware of our “concerned” neighbor and will ignore her in the future. I could tell you about more incidents involving them, but I won’t bore you.

So our trouble-making neighbors haven’t messed with us since and they had better not. Brit Boy and I don’t bother anyone and try to keep the peace, but we also aren’t suckers. Still, it is a little sad as a human being to try to be accommodating and overlook things in your neighbor and they won’t cut you any slack. I guess some people are just like that sometimes everywhere, whether it is here or back home. No country has a lock on all the good or not so nice people in the world.

If I ever have to mention these nosy neighbors next door, which I might, because even though they don’t bother us directly anymore, they are always there. So we call them the “Chav-Bucks”. Chavs are what they call people here who are what we would maybe back home call tacky people. They are loud and wear what they think are the latest fashions and way too much jewelry and act obnoxious. And we added the “Bucks” to the name because they wear all of their money around their necks in big gold jewelry, so they gotta have some money somewhere. (smile) Anyway, we don’t mean them any harm, but it just helps us laugh at all the past strife with them and we go on with our life.


Anonymous said...

Hello from Northern California! I was curious to read about "Chav-Bucks" living in England. I have read a few books lately books that paint all English as polite and lovely while using Americans an example of all things rude and obnoxious! I am in love with the culture but sad to see so many books that count on American put- downs to make points. I recently read "The English American" and while I loved her story the constant analogies she used basically: English good-Americans bad really disheartened me. Another "American bashing whenever convenient" example is "Watching the English" by Kate Fox. She did the same thing over and over! Do you encounter that attitide and how do you respond? Americans are a diverse people and we really aren't all so bad all considered! We even que quite nicely most of the time don't you think? :) (laugh!)

Dori said...

Thanks so much Vanessa for your comment. :-) In answer to your question, when I first arrived here I encountered a bit of the attitude from some people who thought I was going to be obnoxious, loud and rude since I was American, but once they got to know me, they realized that I wasn't like that. I did find it kind of sad and discouraging in the beginning, but then for the most part people are nice here. I have made a few friends here now and they are great. I guess it is like you said about Americans. The Brits are diverse and you have nice people and not so nice people. So that is a great thing that Americans and the British have in common. :-) So I just do my part to be myself and I figure if people want to accept me here they will accept me and if they don't they don't. I hope that in some tiny way I do my part to show that Americans are cool just like everyone else. :-) And incidentally, the Chav-Bucks are moving! Hooray! (laugh) Thanks again for your comment. Have a great day!

Sarah said...

I emphatize about the inconsiderate neighbors that share a with you, though these you wrote of have long since moved. Still, just this morning I had a situation real similar to that. My neighbors with the adjoining chose 9:30 on a weekend morning to start a hammering project, of course waking me up. All these kids started living there and since then they sound like they constantly make contact with the walls. Baffles me how they are always banging into walls from the sound of it. It is so loud and irritating, and no one ever did that who lived next to me until they came along. Sorry for the vent, but it hit home with my current experience.

Dori said...

I should have done an update at the time, but I forgot. Sadly they didn't move. Ugh! And they are still a thorn in our side. When you spoke of the hammering I said "yes" out loud! Our "lovely" neighbors do the same dang thing nearly every weekend morning or they'll do drilling. I'm always thinking that their walls must look like Swiss cheese by now. The house isn't that big so I don't see how they're able to have anything left to hammer or drill into. Even though I'm sorry that you've had to deal with bad neighbors too, it helps to know that I'm not alone.