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Byron Shire
February 26, 2021

Mandy Nolans Soap Box: Dear Neighbour

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Mandy Nolans Soapbox: Dear Neighbour

It’s 7pm. Actually it’s five past. It’s Tuesday. You’ve got the whipper snipper out. At least that’s what it sounds like. High-pitched mechanical whirring at my precious wine time. That’s when I sit down for 10 minutes and have a glass of wine and talk to my husband. We catch up on the day, we talk about what’s coming up. We play some music. We watch thousands of bats fly overhead. And we listen to your fricking whipper snipper.

We’re sitting on the deck drinking wine and listening to someone we’ve never met cut grass. It’s not relaxing. I am not feeling the connection. Instead of chilling out, I am arcing up. I am the whipper snipper snapper.

I try to stay loving. Be in my loving accepting heart. I think about your life. Your challenges. You must be busy in the day. Maybe you’re an albino and you can’t abide sunlight. Maybe you are hideously ugly and only come out at night. Maybe you’re a thoughtless prick. Maybe it’s a Tolstoy fan reliving Levin’s love of cutting the grass with the 20 pages of mowing description that my lecturer in Russian Literature called socialist realism and that I called fucking dull. No wonder Anna Karenin put her head on the tracks. She didn’t like mowing either.

Okay, Neighbour, if you are into Russian lit I’ll cut you some slack. Get yourself a fricking scythe. I understand that you have long grass. I understand that you want to cut your grass. But now? Must you do it now? Can’t the grass wait until five o’clock Sunday morning? Seriously, what kind of monster indulges in night mowing?

There should be a law. The Lawn Law. This law states that all mowing and engine-related activities are not to start until 9am and are to cease at 6pm. I think that’s reasonable. You may not believe me, but LAWN DOESN’T MATTER. Leave it. I’ll do it. Better still, pay someone to deal with your uncouth couch in the middle of the day. I think you’ll find that the chap they call Jim can deliver you of your luscious green deviance.

Dear neighbour, please put down your brushcutter. Walk away from the whipper snipper. STOP. I must ask you: Is having a neat edge really important enough to consider pushing all your neighbours over their edges? I wish I had a drone. Because I would fly it over your thoughtless whipper-snipping arse and out you on social media. Weirdo.

I think maybe it was a one-off. Maybe it was an overnight lawn tool – like a latest release DVD. But Wednesday night they’re at it again. And when I mean at it, I mean they don’t actually start their engines until 7pm. It’s like they’ve waited for dusk to fall, for the evening to become soft and magical. For pink to fuzz gently in the clouds. And just as this tender veil falls, they rip it to fricking shreds.

I live on a ridge. The whipper snipper echoes. It sounds like it’s in my house. I’m thinking it’s personal. My neighbour probably doesn’t even have a lawn. Or a job. They’re probably just some suburban sociopath who’s had to give up alcohol and now enjoys destroying wine time for the rest of us who can still manage moderate drinking (well mostly). Probably sitting in front of the telly watching Deal or No Deal revving their garden implement. I think well, two nights. The job is done. No. There are more still more edges needing trimming. When the engine revs on Thursday I’m on the street. I’m red in the face indignant with rage. I’m running door to door following the sound. I’m trying to track down the night edger.

I’m not alone. Angry neighbours from all over Tallowood Ridge are streaming into the streets. They too are red. They too are angry. They too have had their nightly ambience destroyed. It’s not enough to deal with giant diggers from sun up till sundown; we have a thoughtless Mow-Fucker in our midst, and mow-fucker must be destroyed. Whipper snipped out of existence.

I’m getting close. I’m almost on top of you and then it stops. You prick. I’m 300 metres from home. The scent has gone dead. I’m just another angry middle-aged woman standing in the street. I go home. Sit on the deck. Have a glass of wine. I turn to John and say, ‘It’s stopped. I think that’s it.’ I lift my glass to my lips, and it starts again. That’s it. It’s war. Tomorrow I go to the hire shop and get the retaliation generator. It’s staying on until the whipper snipping stops.


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9 COMMENTS

  1. Sorry, to say this Mandy, but there is an existing law to control this. It is called the NSW Protection of the Environment Operations Act 1997 (Noise). Legally, the whipper snipper can be used between the hours of 7am to 8pm Monday to Friday. On Sundays and public holidays the hours are 8am to 8pm. Outside these hours complain to Council and Police. Hope this clarifies.

  2. I thought moving out of town on a property was going to be peaceful, not! Between bulldozers pulling up camphors from the roots and rearranging the bush, to tracker slashers going up an down the hills to give the palatial look to their country estates, all my neighbours make more noise than I can stand! And no day or time is sacred. I have to turn up my music or wear head phones if I don’t want to hear the various noisy machines that go off everyday. And don’t get me started with the leaf blowers!

    They should have 9 to 5 hours like everyone else! What happened to sacred Sundays that if you did servile work you went to hell! Wish the fear of God was still in force at least on one day of the week!

  3. I have been told that the users of these infernal machines are also known as ‘grassholes’
    Ah for the days when you could enjoy the distant meditative sound of a stiff broom or rake.

  4. I am with you Mandy.
    We live in a maniacal mechanical hell now that the lawn laws have been extended.
    And not only that. Now they can cut down and mulch as many trees as they ( being the newly invested sea changing owners who come for the lovely quiet green of the place then chop it all down?) like….suburban noise ceilings are at 50 decibels where as these tree murdering mulching machines operate at over100 decibels.Wtf!
    My record for going crazy to the whining high pitched murder by vegetal vivisection and then the sound of armageddon was 8 days and 29 trees.
    I yelled so much i gave myself a cyst on my menopausal thyroid!
    Let’s have a rally …we can all wear ear muffs and rant as loud as we want inside council chambers or in State government chambers until they change the laws back again so that wage slaves can have an enforced sunset tipple with the rest of us…in peace with only the sound of the odd spotted drongo!

  5. Sometimes new land owners have to make a lot of noise to remove invasive species (eg Camphor) that overran the place because their green-loving predecessor neglected basic maintenance. Go for a drive around some country roads out the back of Mullum and similar areas, and see how the nature loving residents have allowed the land to be degraded into a monoculture of lantana and/or camphor. Those noisy buggers that are being complained about could well be undertaking regeneration works, really difficult with a pair of secatuers

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