To My New Neighbour with the Stone Lions

Dear owner,

I can’t wait to meet you. Wow. You must a celebrity, or at least an incredibly successful pioneer; not just any old bod is important and rich enough to have a pair of stone entranceway lions outside their own home.

The majestic — some might say stoic — presence of those lions gives your house a stately feel, something that might be found in a period drama with Keira Knightley and a fatty-man wearing white tights and shiny buckled shoes. I’ve been hoping to catch a glimpse of you amidst the building contractors and the diggers and such, but whenever I walk by, I’m blinded by dust, flying branches, beigeness, and of course the dazzle of the lions. Somehow, you have remained hidden from all the questioning eyes, the hopeful resident A-list spotters. Who will be moving in?

You positioned the predators either side of your gate, well before the roof was complete, the double garage doors were painted in the beige, and the tiny dwarf firs were planted in a row alongside the iron fence. You must have made the lions a priority, and so you should. Put your stamp on the world, my glorious new neighbour, and say, “Hey everyone, here I am! Roaaaarrrr! And yes, what you’re all thinking is correct. I have loads of wonga — and massive genitals.”

Do you wear white tights? I ask, but perhaps I’m confusing real-life celebrity with movie characters again.

When you tore down the 1950s post-and-beam classic and hacked at the twelve Douglas fir trees, I have to say that I kind of hated you a little bit. Not everyone likes to see a thousand years of old growth disappear in a few chainsaw minutes, or a piece of modernist architecture battered down and replaced by a home double the size, with half-size windows (oh, just call me an old-fashioned busybody). But just for the record, it wasn’t me who called the city to complain about the gross decimation. That must have been one of the other seventy or so residents of this road who kind of hated you a little bit too. When you eventually move into your new house — you know, when the dust has settled, as it were — you may well get some scornful looks, even one or two letters filled with contempt through your door, but you shouldn’t worry. All the resentment will die down eventually, because your lions will save you. Their big, ugly heads will be a reminder to us all that it is animals that matter in the world — dead or alive — and not some silly neighbourhood tiff about preserving nature and heritage.

One day, you may well get bored of your new monster house. Perhaps you’ll want more bathrooms. I mean, one can’t have too many bathrooms, right? You probably have only four or five in there. The tiny dwarf firs will have grown too big and cumbersome, the beigeness of everything will have faded to cream, or off-white. But you’ll still have your lions, despite every cheaply built wall disintegrating around you. They’ll be standing, big and strong, because they must be made of — what? Are they really stone? Or plaster? Either way, they’ll last. And so should you. Rejoice in the splendour of your crumbling manor. You are the man — the best neighbour there is. Well, you would be, if we all lived on some kind of flimsy movie set of  Pride and Prejudice. Which brings to mind a relevant, if overused, quote: “It is a truth, universally acknowledged, that a man with good fortune must be in want of big, fat, piece-of-shit colossus of a beige house built six inches away from the one next door.”

Your loving neighbour, Jackie

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