COLUMN: October 18, 2018

Paula Wilcox, Richard O’Sullivan, and Sally Thomsett in Man About The House

I LIVE in a flat in a converted house, like Richard O’Sullivan in Man About The House, only without two female flatmates and Yootha Joyce downstairs.

Living in a flat has a number of advantages. For example, when I need to go to the loo, I don’t have to go upstairs. Nor do I have to vacuum stairs, which is the worst part of vacuuming.

But it also has several disadvantages. I can’t slide down the banister, for instance. And there is no loft, so there is nowhere to hide away my Christmas tree, which means it sits in the corner of my bedroom all year long, reminding me that Elf, the worst film ever made, is a thing.

And it means I share a building with an ever-changing cast. It’s worse than Casualty. I only just get used to one neighbour and then he shows up in Coronation Street. It’s a nightmare picking up the post, especially as we still get junk mail for people who were in flat 3 for three months eight years ago and are now in Emmerdale.

But recently things have become slightly worse. Because one of the people in my building has come out as a passive-aggressive note writer.

If you’ve ever worked in an office, you will be familiar with the passive-aggressive note, or passagg note for short. These are the notes that appear in the kitchen, next to the sink, and usually go along the lines of:

“Please can whoever is putting the spoons back in the drawer upside down stop? It is very upsetting to have to go into the drawer and turn them the right way up, as God intended.”


“Tea bags should not be used as scouring pads. If anything, they make matters worse. Please put used tea bags in the special used tea bag box. I am sick and tired of having to remove tea bags from the scouring pads Tupperware.”

These passagg notes usually finish with a smiley face, just to make it clear that this is not a scowling telling-off, but, rather, just a perfectly normal way of communicating with other human beings.

The best passagg notes are the ones that refer obliquely to dark events, perpetrated, presumably, by one individual. I used to work in an office in which there was a note in the gentlemen’s lavatory saying something like “Owing to recent events, please leave these toilets in the state in which you found them. It is not fair for the cleaners otherwise”, and nobody ever got to the bottom of the “recent events”.

The passagg notes in my building are more along these lines. The first one appeared a couple of weeks ago, and said:

“PLEASE stop slamming the door as you leave. It is very unpleasant for the people who live downstairs.”

The trouble with this is that the front door is a big heavy one that you have to slam to close, otherwise one can trap one’s fingers, which I suspect would be even more unpleasant. Still, since the note went up I have attempted with mixed results to close the door like a ninja.

Then, a week later, a second note appeared:

“Can everyone please ask visitors to park on the road? Spaces should be for those who pay to live here. Thanks.”

I’m afraid I saw red. I was so angry I wrote a passagg note of my own:

“Please can whoever is leaving these notes stop? It is too much to read when leaving the house and might make other occupants forget what they want from Little Tesco. Thank you.”

But when I returned home, my note had been torn down. This was outrageous. Not only had the passagg neighbour put up the original notes, but he or she had decided that other people in the building were not allowed to put up their own passagg notes.

So I put up a second note:

“Can whoever is tearing down my passagg notes please stop? It takes me three attempts to do a clean one without spelling mistakes. Thank you.”

And within minutes it was violently torn down, Sellotape and all. I mean, really! How dare he or she? I pay my rent too so I should also be allowed to tell people off in this manner for going about their lawful business of closing doors or having guests.

So now I am out for revenge. And this column is probably it.

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