Activities on home premises can irk neighbours - GulfToday

Activities on home premises can irk neighbours

Birjees Hussain

She has more than 10 years of experience in writing articles on a range of topics including health, beauty, lifestyle, finance, management and Quality Management.

She has more than 10 years of experience in writing articles on a range of topics including health, beauty, lifestyle, finance, management and Quality Management.


Illustrative image.

Back in the mid-80s in England a new family moved in next door to us. They were fresh from Israel, a nice family, and I guess they didn’t realise that the UK culture was a tad different from those in the Middle East and the Mediterranean. On their first day, their young lads spent the whole day sitting on the wall of their front garden. We found it a bit odd and a little bit awkward because every time we went out to do anything in our front garden, there they were watching us, and I suppose they were watching the other neighbours too. They weren’t being nosey; they were just doing what they were accustomed to doing back home. Of course, when they realised that no one in the street was doing the same, they stopped sitting on their wall.

 The elderly sitting outside their doorsteps watching the world go by is a common sight in many Mediterranean and Middle Eastern countries. It’s the charm of visiting such places and many artists have captured these unknown figures in their paintings.  It isn’t, or should I say, wasn’t the done thing in the UK, however. But it has now become somewhat of a habit among people, a habit acquired as a result of the lengthy Covid related lockdowns that were imposed in 2020. Those who had gardens decided that, since they couldn’t venture out into the streets, the only way for them to get fresh air, and to enjoy some semblance of a community atmosphere, was to sit in their front gardens for a while. They’d read a book, have a cup of tea and enjoy the fresh air.

A lot of people who were fortunate enough to own a house with a front and back garden did this. Those who were in flats, of course, could not. But now that things are returning to a degree of normality, it seems that the habit of sitting outside continues but there are some things that British neighbours cannot abide by. Apparently a newspaper journalist listed a litany of activities that one should not do outside in one’s neighbourhood, even if one does them on one’s own premises.

The first is not to sit for hours on end in your front garden. It doesn’t matter if you’re drinking a cup of coffee, reading a book, sunbathing or just snoozing. It seems that it creeps out your neighbours. They wonder, are you a peeping Tom, nosey or just plain neighbourhood-watching? They especially don’t like you sunbathing in your smalls, regardless of whether you’re a man or a woman. The front garden is an especially sensitive area because, in many cases, it’s rare to find one that is discrete and you almost always have a view of your neighbour’s front, even over the hedge. So if you’re outside taking in the sun for hours on end, you might find that your neighbour might be a bit miffed at having lost his privacy to some extent.

But sunbathing or simply sitting outside isn’t the only thing that can get your neighbours worked up. Some of these things I fully understand, aside from the sitting outside bit.  If you’re not sitting outside fully clothed, drinking a cup of tea and taking in the air, then know that your neighbours do not appreciate you sitting out there in your smalls. Nor do they like to see your smalls hanging on the washing line. It’s okay to have children’s innerwear hanging out to dry but yours are a no-no.

Just as people don’t like to see you sunbathing in your smalls, they also don’t want to see you in a hot-tub, whether in your smalls or not, with a bunch of friends. This is especially so at night when you might be drinking and getting rowdy. According to some neighbours of hot tub owners, these machines are in themselves noisy. They make this whirring sound when not in use, a sound that can be amplified at night when things are quiet.

A lot of people like to have parties outside but they forget that when their parties go on into the night, they can disturb sleeping neighbours. What about crying babies at night, I hear you say. But that’s different. Aside from telling your neighbours to stop having children, remember that babies do cry at night and parents would like them to stop as much as their neighbours. But night-time parties can get out of hand if guests get drunk and become abusive to those around them. So parties should end at a reasonable hour and before guests get boisterous.

Barbecuing, whilst innocent, can also present problems. Whilst you might love the smell of the meat being grilled, you might want to consider the sensitive noses of your neighbours. Not all of them will appreciate the smell of something odd wafting over their fence nor would they appreciate the smoke getting into the laundry that’s hanging up to dry. You might, therefore, want to inform them that there will be smoke so that they can take their washing back in. And you might want to extend an invitation to them too, just to soften the news of the pending ‘noise’, ‘smell’ and ‘smoke’. And, finally, while at it, do make sure that you don’t leave your dog outside barking all night. That can get your dog into trouble...if you remember that famous Seinfeld episode about the disappearing dog.

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