It’s a good day for my planned surveillance. I’m prepared and it’s sunny. My expectation is that she will leave her house some time this morning. Her daughter takes her out every Saturday. They are creatures of habit.
This is valuable experience, I’m writing a detective novel and want to feel every nuance.
I am determined to wait it out. Surely it won’t be long, it’s almost lunch time.
There were three steps which preceded this unprecedented surveillance.
Step One – I discovered that my neighbour spies on me with binoculars through her back bedroom window. How do I know . . . read on.
But now, a whole load of her family arrive. Is she feeding them? Will she not be going out? I lose confidence. No, detectives stick it out.
To resume Step One – boys rapped on my front door demanding their ball back which was, they said in my back garden. ‘No, it’s not,’ I said. Later a note, ‘Dear kind lady . . . next door said you have it.’ Oh, did they!!
I called upon my neighbour, the one who is now under surveillance.
‘Yes, we saw the ball, it’s in your garden.’
Me, joking, ‘you have binoculars?’
‘Yes, the ball’s . . .’
Despite living here for 14 years I didn’t realise the full extent of my neighbour’s nature. Idiot, trusting me!
The Forsythia in my garden was cut to the ground while I was in hospital. I still didn’t twig. I put it down to my being dreadfully ill with no energy to realise or to carry an umbrage.
Step Two – I found out she’d been lying to me consistently. The lies were marked by ‘my sister said,’ and ‘my daughter said.’ Always to do with my garden.
I found this out after I had trimmed a flowering shrub in my small front garden.
‘You cut a hole so you can spy on me, my sister said the same.’ The following conversation was something of a farce and not worth repeating. When I saw her sister she said . . .
‘She’s been naughty again, I told her you can grow your garden whatever way you like.’
Am I wasting my day waiting for her to leave so that I feel comfortable doing what I want to do? Is veracity in a detective story worth it?
Step Three – The last straw broke when she was rude to my gutterer. It was then I decided to privatise my garden.
But they’re still indoors, she must be feeding them. I’m hungry and must feed myself.
* * *
I decided to cook lunch and ate it sitting where I could see out front. I’m fortunate, the detectives in my novel will stand in the rain or sit in their car, cold and longing for the loo.
I waffled, shall I do something worthwhile instead? But at that moment of weakness, the family left. Daughter, with neighbour in red coat left shortly afterwards.
Joy, everything was ready and the job was soon done, nails went in like a knife in butter, a few diagonals fixed it securely. I fanned out the new Clematis Montana Floribuna and tied it to my new trellis now nailed to the pergola, thus securing privacy for my cups of tea and good reads in the garden.
‘Grow fast,’ I said.
With six foot bamboo and a long stick, I made a tepee in the gap beside the pergola and the fence. A gap through which I could see her small bedroom window and one through which she could peer down at me.
I wove honeysuckle and told it to thicken up and multiply. If it doesn’t, I’m sure the clematis will.
All tension relieved, surveillance and resulting action over. Review . . . add the unexpected for tension, like this morning when the family arrived.
I tidied the garden, mowed the lawn and sat on the bench beside the conservatory and drank tea to admire my altered garden. I watched the blue tits in the apple tree and listened to the blackbird.
To complete the garden’s metamorphosis, I trained the chain-sawed (by alien builder working interminably on extending a hideous retirement home below my garden) rambler – single pink roses, big thorns, huge as a house, to dive smartly and impenetrably south along the trellis at the bottom of my garden where it will meet Montana Mayleen growing north. Combined, they will block my view across a row of back gardens, two old-folks-homes, and, the result of fashionable installation of decking, trampolines and people’s heads.