Thursday, 20 December 2012

234: Not In My Backyard

It was black and sticky and smelly and it was in my garden.  The whole top area was unusable because of the stuff.  I spent three whole weekends landscaping it and laying that gravel stuff in pretty swirls so my wife could plonk an expensive wrought iron reclamation bench in the middle and admire the view.

The council were no help when I called then in.  ‘Not a nuisance’ they said.  And not dangerous or noxious or a load of other stuff they said, so they couldn’t help.  I said it was a nuisance but they said it meant a different legal thing which that black goo wasn’t, so I was on my own.  I got some fact sheets and a telephone number of a consultant and that was it.  Probably down to all the bloody cuts I expect.

I rang the number in the end, when the wife got sick of looking at the mess and when her posh bench started to sink at one end.  The consultant came along and took samples, lots of them from different locations and sent them for analysis.  Then he sent his team to do some digging, looking for the source he said.  So up came all my hard work and lots more besides.  Shame we didn’t find it before I did the digging first time round.

After a couple of days, which I’m certain, is longer than it really should have taken, there was a breakthrough.  The origin of the black stuff was just outside our back fence, on a patch of ground owned by a local builder.  Yes, I thought, and decided I would contact my solicitor about a claim for damages from him.  Maybe I could get the whole garden done by way of compensation.  I wondered if even the expensive consultant’s fees might be palmed off on him as well.

Next morning I had a call from the consultant, with the news that the results of the tests were in.  Excellent, I thought, my solicitor can tell him what it is in the same letter.  But it wasn’t anything like the sort of thing I was expecting.  If I’d have known I’d, I don’t know, found a way to extend my boundary or something.

I did get the fees paid and a nice job done of the garden in the end.  Well after all, if you’ve just discovered an untapped oilfield on your land you can afford to be generous can’t you?

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