Ann enjoys using writing to explore social issues, to comment on ways to solve problems, depending on circumstance and help available.
Our Tranquil Spot
In 1958 a new brick wall stood proudly defining the boundary of a plot of land on which stood a newly-built bungalow. Near the sea, beside an old irrigation ditch banked with tall, whispering willows, it was a tranquil spot.
It wasn’t a huge wall, neither broad nor high, without pretence, but it did its job, stating,
“No one shall come within this property who isn’t allowed or invited. No one shall invade this privacy. No one shall force entry onto this land.”
End of the Road
So there it stood until one day in the late sixties when it was rudely assaulted. The council dust cart (these days more respectfully called the refuse collection lorry) had to turn round in the end of the cul-de-sac outside. Either the driver wasn’t sure about the size of his vehicle, or there was a blind spot, or he was having a bad day; whatever the reason the outcome was indeed a forced entry. The wall suffered, toppled and damaged.
The council came along, assessed the situation and rebuilt the wall. Fine!
A few months later it happened again, then again in a year or so! Nobody knows whether the driver was the same each time. Three times was enough and an agreement was reached between owner and council; the wall would be moved back a few feet, away from the edge of the road, safely out of reach of wayward wagons. The original wall was therefore removed, save a lone pillar at the far end.
Fast forward to 2016, when the property had a new owner - me! One day as I wandered around outside, I noticed an old pillar hiding behind a tree on the council grass outside. I wondered why it was there, couldn’t think of a reason, but thought that maybe it was originally on our land. I hunted for the Land Registry document in the deeds, and the plan didn’t quite match what I saw. Why would the boundary wall have been moved back? Mystery!
Fast forward again to 2022. In March we had four storms with a week, causing havoc over the whole country. Terrifying winds whistled down the area beside our house. Higher flats near the sea end further west of us act as a funnel and those high winds race down past them causing us to get the brunt of any gales. Fortunately, we were spared any structural damage apart from fences and flying debris had to be avoided now and then.
The trees weren't so lucky. Several of the willows next to the property were weak, taking on a precarious angle and threatening to fall on our caravan or the overhead electricity wires.
Reacting fast to our call, the tree surgeons were dispatched to deal with the situation and the branches were cut down, much to our relief, so problem averted.
Pillar and Footings of Original Wall
That, dear readers, is not the end of the story.
The foreman of the impressively capable tree surgeons asked us who the land by the front wall belonged to. We told him, “The Council.”
“Well, you’d better get on to them too, as the elm tree by that old pillar is dead and could come down at any minute and damage your wall and caravan.”
We duly notified the Council, who promptly requested photos, then sent a charming man round to assess the situation and verify whether or not it was council land. He did and it was. His final question referred to the old pillar,
“Why is that there?”
“We don’t know. We’ve often wondered but haven’t been able to find out.”
Whereupon he got out his phone, looked up the plans for said piece of land and said,
“Well, that’s your boundary. When this tree is taken down, put up a fence as soon as possible to reclaim your land and reinstate your wall on that original line. Just don’t touch the curbstone.”
The tree was felled, we gained lots of logs for our wood-burner, and the boundary was reclaimed, an extra 4 feet, 30 feet long! The new wall is a work-in-progress, all lining up with the original pillar, literally the corner stone.
Mystery wall renewed!
Still the story continues.
The only resident in our street to have lived here since the properties were built (probably our oldest resident) often takes a stroll up to the end and back, passes the time of day if we’re outside, tells us a few stories and goes back home. The other week, he was accompanied by his daughter. They were able to add the missing piece of the jigsaw to this tale. The daughter told us the story of the dust cart; she saw it happen when she was little and her father confirmed it.
Finally the mystery was solved!
Reinstatement, with Helper
So now the original front line of the property is being reinstated, with help from my youngest grandson, and I have a slightly larger front garden. In fact, due to the angle of it, the extra makes a significant difference, I’m pleased to say. I’m also pleased that the refuse collection lorries are now too big to turn round here; they back in or out, all the way down the road, so our wall is in no longer threatened.
It has taken just over 60 years for this tale to unravel. This got me pondering.
A wall was built, it got knocked down;
a new wall was built, it got knocked down;
another wall appeared, it got knocked down.
People gave up, the wall moved back and it stayed that way for 60 years, until a representative of those who made the deal decided it was time to revert to the status quo.
The wall rebuilt on the original line will justly protect the whole terrain once more.
Make this a human story. We take setbacks, we recover; more of the same and maybe we can recover again. If it continues it becomes more difficult to recover, we have less energy to persevere if we think it’s to no avail and we may compromise.
Then, for all sorts of reasons and fortuitous combinations, something changes and, having been patient and had faith, you are rewarded with the outcome which you deserve. Is it luck or something more? On the way, others add their tuppence-worth, their help and their knowledge, to create a story with a picture. All this by circumstance, with maybe a touch of luck, bringing all sides of the story together through the presence of what seems to be a random selection of people and an alignment of the stars.
Patience, thoughtful exploration, logical thought and others’ ideas with help along the way, is what happens. Determination to finally put together the jigsaw, to make the pieces fit as they should, to reinstate a plan made long ago, fulfilling destiny.
Devastation in Ukraine
And so to Ukraine....
My thoughts now go to Ukraine, taking this tale a step farther. Those plucky people have a wish to reinstate what is rightfully theirs, to rebuild those demolished walls of devastation, to push forward, to fight against the might of those who would destroy them. The original property is protected as it should be, is rebuilt in the way it was intended. I hope and pray that they win, that this carnage and persecution will stop, and that right will prevail.
That well-positioned, solid wall will make its statement when the whole jigsaw is put together once again. It will allow access when necessary or when advantageous, or it will deny access when there is danger. We need to recognise and acknowledge the difference and so do our neighbours.
© 2022 Ann Carr