There have always been crazies in my life and, as much as I dislike the stereotype, they are almost always female.

When we moved to our first apartment in Lyon years ago there was a folle-dingue on the top floor who took an instant dislike to us. Was it the dogs (our first two Frenchies, the dynamic duo Edouard and Dorothée) or the fact that I was foreign? We never knew and it didn’t matter. She sprewed insults whenever she got the chance, and once when we left our groceries by the elevator for a few minutes, we found the top of a baguette ripped off. Other than that, she was harmless enough. But her gratuitous meanness felt like a personal assault.

Our next-door neighbour back in Chens-sur-Léman was not quite up there in the crazy category but she was close enough to qualify. She walked around her yard starkers and frequently screamed like a banshee at her husband and son, along with anyone else who got in her way. (I say that in all humility, being known to be no shrinking violet myself.) I avoided her as much as possible.

It seems we have a new folle-dingue in our lives. She lives in the house just above our future (hopefully) residence and is at least part of the reason construction is still stalled. She is the one behind all the complaints to the town, backed by another neighbour who is known to object to everything. The crazy-eyes in question has a swimming pool and is trying to pass off cracks in the foundation to the work on our building (she should check her own cracks if you ask me). Apparently they had an expert come to her place to assess the situation, and he confirmed that the cracks in her pool predated any work on our property; however, she is persisting in her ‘démarche’ to try and get more money from the developers (not the first time she’s done this).

Now the architects have submitted new plans (lowering the roof angle to correct the 72 cm error in the building height) and have a meeting with the authorities at the end of the month. After that we should know whether the project will be stalled for further inquiries (which could go on for some time) or whether it will be able to start up again and hopefully meet the new date for next May. If not, we have the option to bail and get our money back, which we’re not keen to do given how much time we’ve invested so far and how much we want to live there. But if means years of delay, we will cut our losses. I have no doubt that we will find something else.

Preferably without a folle-dingue as a neighbour.

Do you have any nutbars in your life?


  1. margaret21 · October 23

    Luckily not, though our neighbours in France suddenly turned viciously against us when we had the temerity to mention – not complain – that their dog, whom they’d left home alone, had howled for hours (‘Vous mentez, madame’). They continued to bad-mouth us till we moved away. If you have the making of a bad neighbour even before you move in, are you sure you want to persist? It can, as you know, make life very difficult.

    • MELewis · October 24

      I hear you! The French can hold a grudge like nobody else, and the Swiss French are known for being difficult neighbours too. Two things are holding me back from pressing the panic button at the moment: if and when we do move in, there will be no contact with this person as her house is on a different street and only barely visible at the roof level of our building (we’ll be on the ground floor); also, no matter you move, you run the risk of difficult neighbours. But if things get too stickly, we’ll definitely get out while we can.

  2. Vanessa in France · October 23

    I’m sorry to hear about your difficulties and hope they get resolved to your satisfaction. It doesn’t sound very good for future neighbourly relations, though. We are very fortunate not to have difficult (or nutty) neighbours. And our houses are all so separated from one another that these sorts of issues almost never arise. “Neighbour” being a term that covers anyone within about 2 km here!

    • MELewis · October 24

      Lucky you! I think in some ways the best ‘neighbours’ are the ones you barely see!

  3. Katherine Wikoff · October 23

    I hope you survive the current crazy neighbor. I’m sorry your nice building site is saddled with such a “blight” on the landscape!

    • MELewis · October 24

      Thank you, Katherine! It really is a shame, even if we almost expected a few flies in the ointment. Now we have to wait and see whether the situation resolves itself within a reasonable delay. 🤞🏻

  4. Colin Bisset · October 24

    Ooh, difficult, that one. The magical thinking part of my brain tells me stuff like that is a warning for the future and if you can get out then do. But then I think of the number of irritating neighbours we’ve endured who have piped down once they realise we’re not doing the devil’s work. It seems that people go slightly crazy when they think the view from their house is at risk. I hope that 72cms might at least have a calming effect…

    • MELewis · October 24

      The crazy thing is that her view is not in any way impacted. 🤷 Hard to explain without a drawing but her property is higher than our building anyway, even with the roof on, and aside from that the principle view faces the other way. I’m trying to curtail the magical thinking at the moment but will eventually give in to it if things don’t resolve quickly.

      • Colin Bisset · October 24

        There’s something about people being physically above you that gives them ownership of a situation, I think. For years we suffered a neighbour up the hill from us (invisible but there) who carped about everything we did, the trees we planted, even stopping a small building project. He was a bother but I soon realised he did this to everyone in the area, especially those around his place on the hill. But now he’s gone and that’s that. Tempus fugit. So let’s wish your neighbour a pleasant journey somewhere else where she can bother others.

  5. davidprosser · October 24

    My own nutjob currently lives next door and when she sees me constantly asks what she’s done to offend me as I never talk to her anymore. I should point out that I’ve only ever spoken to her a few times and that was when Julia was alive, so at least 9 years ago, when I used to pass her house coming from the car. She complains because I talk to my neighbour opposite and take her gifts. These are generally portions of cake that are far too big for me to finish or are bad for me. I couldn’t give them to her as she’s diabetic. She’s a bitter old lady who wants to move but can’t so I get the ‘crazy’.
    Hugs Mel

    • MELewis · October 24

      Oh dear, David. Sounds like your neighbour has a screw loose…or three. Perhaps such people are our cross to bear? In any case, glad you have at least one good’un to chat with! Hugs hugs hugs.

  6. acflory · October 24

    Commiserations. 😦 Maybe building somewhere else wouldn’t be so bad. That neighbour with the pool sounds like a real piece of work. All of my immediate neighbours here in Warrandyte are lovely, but some anonymous person did leave a typed message in my letterbox, complaining about my dog barking. This was during the height of the pandemic and the lockdowns, so I suspect it was someone going stir crazy. Still, it did scare in case the nutter decided to hurt my little ankle biter. Thank goodness we haven’t heard anything further from Mr or Mrs Nasty!

    • MELewis · October 24

      It is especially stressing to feel that we are under attack in our own home! We are all vulnerable in some way, and I can imagine you might worry about your little dog staying safe. You just never know how far some people will go… As for building elsewhere, there are not many properties available in the area but you are right: if the going gets too tough, we will definitely find something else. 🤞🏻

      • acflory · October 24

        Yup. We tend to assume that all people are basically nice. It’s a shock to realise that some may be capable of truly malicious behaviour.
        I hope things on your build do settle down and that your neighbour settles down too. -hugs-

  7. D. Wallace Peach · October 24

    Oh, Mel, I’m so sorry to hear about the troublesome neighbors. They really can cause trouble, and addicted to drama, they generally don’t quit. We sold our dream house and moved because of some neighbors like that. Now we live in the middle of the woods without a neighbor in sight. I hope it all works out wonderfully for you wherever you end up. ❤

    • MELewis · October 24

      Thank you so much for the moral support, Diana! Your solution sounds radical but I do understand it. There’s a French expression I like: Vivons heureux, vivons cachés. (Live happy, live hidden).

      • D. Wallace Peach · October 24

        Ha. Yes, there’s something to be said for that, as well as the joy of having wonderful neighbors. I wish you plenty of the latter!

  8. mkmiller09393 · October 24

    Yikes – fortunately, not like yours! We have a very benign character who moved to our town a few years ago. He has some kind of a brain injury, and walk around town waving at everyone. He will chat you to distraction of given a chance, but he’s become something of a beloved figure. I hope this woman does not make your life hell, and wish you the best of luck with your new home.

    • MELewis · October 24

      Now that’s the kind of nutter I wholly approve of! I am all for diversity and the world needs to be kind to people like your neighbour. Tiem will tell for us. Thanks, MK!

  9. Ally Bean · October 27

    Our resident neighbor nutbar is Crazy Bird Lady. We live in a subdivision known for trees, lots of very old ones. CBL hates birds which, stick with me here, live in trees. Why this woman moved here I don’t know, but to get the birds to leave the trees around her property she steps out onto her deck with a soup pot, bangs on the pot with a metal spoon, and yells “Fu@k You” at the birds. So far the birds have not left the area.

    • MELewis · November 4

      Ooh, anyone who hates birds is suspicious if you ask me. Sorry you have to put up with her. Long may they roost on her property! 🦅

  10. Kiki · November 4

    Oh dear…. here there are very definite feelings about NCs. We twice stood back because of such problems. One person suffice to render you unhappy for life. All the more as you seem to attract nutsies… 😉
    You *must* listen to your interior voice. Maybe there’s a reason that property plot was still available? And if that person IS known for bad behavior it cd be difficult to sell it later on.
    Then there are the eccentrics. Those I have no problem with at all. To the contrary: they add spice to a sometimes boring life. Them I wd embrace with wide open arms.
    Pls don’t anybody wreck *your* life …. no house/flat is worth it. What’s important is your peace of mind.
    I wish you luck and wise decision takings.

    • MELewis · November 9

      My inner voice is silent at the moment. We are too distanced from what is going on to have a true gut feeling. For now, I have decided to go to Japan and let the dust settle. We will come back to it by the end of the year and make our decision. You are right: nothing is more important than peace of mind! Cheers my dear Kiki!

      • Kiki · November 9

        Yes just enjoy your Japan trip. Your mind might be clear and serene by that and any decision will be wisely taken.
        I wd always go with my inner feelings in such an important matter. Even on the very day we signed the definite house buying contract, I was ill with my deeply elt worries…. and sadly I was right.
        When we bought and later sold our home in Switzerland, my gut said yes twice and it was right and good. It’s not something I will ever ignore again (not that we can. We lost our savings and investment and are happy rentners now).

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