Thursday, 20 September 2012

Anger is an Energy

I've been digging and weeding and planting for several hours each day for the last few days. It's physically a little bit demanding, and time consuming, but it doesn't need a great deal of thought.

So I've been alone with my thoughts, and that conspiracy with my inner world happened to take place at a time when I was angry.

That anger is both a positive and a negative thing. It's positive because it's a motivational rocket. It's negative because it's blinding.

When I'm in it's midst, I don't really see it for what it is. I over react. I fly off the handle. In retrospect, I find myself regretting my actions. In life I mean, not just today.

So here's what happened:

A few weeks ago, we had a fire on the plot. One of our two sheds was burned down. We lost almost all of our tools. We lost our wheelbarrow and our hosepipe. There was a gap, and then guilt made me return to the allotment. Much of the mess had been cleared up. What was left of the corrugated metal shed, I made into a fence seperating us from our neighbour. Let's call her Eve.

There's a bit of history between us and Eve. A bit of office politics. When we first took on the plot, she was friendly, and offered to help us in any way she could. We'd just acquired something that we'd never had before, and wanted to do it ourselves. It seemed to us that she took our rejection as a personal snub. It didn't help that she has a well established plot. A place for everything, and everything in it's place. She has tea making facilities, gutters leading water from her shed rooves into butts, all sorts of plexiglass structures and greenhouses. It's both spick and span.

We, on the other hand, have been slipshod, lackadaisical, inept. For all our hard work, our plot is generally far more shambolic. We had a glassless greenhouse that never got glazed. After a year, Eve asked the Site Secretary if she could have it, and the site secretary, without our consent or cognisance, gave it to her.

We rarely meet. Eve is up at the crack of dawn. By the time we get our arses down there, she's long finished.

A few months ago, Eve planted a line of Willow saplings against the border of our plots. Willows grow quickly. It was a pointed gesture, but also quite an aggressive thing to do. The willow branches out and encroaches onto our side.

She does have some right to feel aggrieved. Those with dirty plots broadcast weed seeds to their neighbours.

When I went to the plot a few days ago, I used the remaining corrugated metal from our shed to reinforce the boundary between us. I returned the next day to find it flat on the ground. It has been a windy few days, and the wind could easily have blown the sheets of metal over. I rebuilt it, but reinforced it by putting a few stakes into the soil behind it. And when I went today, it was all flattened again. It could still be the wind, but the likelihood of it being an act of malice is much greater. I rebuilt it, and reinforced it still further. If it's horizontal tomorrow, there can be little doubt that she's destroying structures on my plot.

Part of my destroyed shed has somehow ended up as a structural part of her plot. It bounds a pile of horse manure. How did it get there? Did the horse manure fairy leave it under her pillow?

Of course this is petty. What does it matter if she doesn't like my fence? or that she'd obtained a bit of a burned shed? Even if she did nick it.

Eve has a sister who also has a plot in a different part of the site. They would like our plot. I get the feeling that when we didn't visit the allotments for a few weeks, they were secretly hoping that we'd give it up, and that they'd be able to take it over.
 The site secretary has previously sided with them against our wishes, and I wouldn't put it past her to pull what strings she could to get us off the plot.

Such were my thoughts this afternoon, as I toiled amidst the dockleaves and dandelions. Revenge fantasies ran through my mind. I would go really early, and video her knocking down my fence. Just as an insurance policy. I still might. I ran through imaginary conversations with her and with the site secretary in which I stated my position eloquantly and forcefully. Over and over again. Ah the Deep Joy of the Self Righteous.

But also, I was determined that I wasn't going to give up. The rationalé, "I'm going to work my socks off so that you don't get it" is entirely negative, but it's effective. I really do intend to keep this plot.

Ultimately, if I do avoid losing my allotment, it's going to be because I've put in a lot of work turning it into a cultivated plot. Not because I've won a pointless battle with a neighbour.

driving lessons in Wallasey? learn to drive in Wirral? driving instructor in Birkenhead?


Pete said...

I will bore you (again) with a short story.

2 or 3 months ago, a friend e-mailed me and said, "I'll meet you in such-and-such pub in downtown Bangkok at 1pm." The e-mail was sent at 8am. So that's 5 hours. It would take me around 3 hours to get there if I read the e-mail immediately and was ready to go at the drop of a hat. His e-mail also said, "I have no money on my phone."

I know this guy is not skint. So I replied and I quote, "You've been in Thailand too long. Stick 200 Baht (£4) on your phone. I won't be able to make it today...." He took umbrage and sent me a very snotty e-mail about my attitude.

I asked him to calm down.

Eventually he admitted he had alienated all his friends and nobody ever phoned him any more so he hadn't put any money on his phone for 3 months but said he would.

Since that time, he has refused to take any of my phone calls so I guess I have ended up in his ex-friends 'box' along with many others.

My point is not a few people have no conflict resolution skills and their only answer is to sulk, sometimes for years on end. Possibly, your Eve is in that category. It doesn't mean they are bad; they are just unable to put aside any perceived slight.

So, and you know this already, you might be best to just forget about her or invite round for some nut cutlets and some Cabernet Sauvignon.

Paul said...

Actually Pete, it did me the world of good to go off on a bit of a solitary rant.

I spent a few hours there today, and I found that a cloud had somehow lifted.

The fence was still up. The sun was shining. And I got busy planting autumn seeds without an Eve shaped chip weighing down my shoulder.

I will be back there tomorrow. The front half is almost finished. The back is going to need a lot more work. I can eventually use the corrugated metal sheets, cut into strips, as the edges of beds.

I may need a hand to deal with the nettles.

Paul said...

Will you be heading back to Wirral next month?

Pete said...

Oh yes, October 16th

See you then.

You just leave "Eve" to me..

Just kidding (about Eve)