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Neighbours

What is the fine line between Neighbourhood Watch and stalking ... or just plain nosey? | It Started in LA | itstartedinla.com
Celebrity, My LA story, Posts

Neighbourhood watch or stalking?

 

When does Neighbourhood Watch get classified as stalking–or just plain nosey?

 

When did neighbourhood watch become stalking?  There’s stalking.  And then there’s stalking.  Right?  In my best Kim Kardashian voice: I feel like the term stalking is so overused these days.

These days stalking describes social media habits—you know the ones? Your Facebook friends who know exactly what you’ve been up to but don’t ever press the like button (you know who you are).  Then there’s the people that hop on your Instagram and browse your page and like all the photos they haven’t liked because, well, they like them.  In this day and age this is stalking.  The fear of the double-tap is real people.

Neighbourhood watch

What about when you have a neighbour who happens to be an actor and you glance over to see if there’s any activity in the front yard.  Is that stalking?  We all do it, don’t we? Glance over to see what the neighbours are up to?  Don’t we or is that just me?  In my day it was Neighborhood Watch—note the capitals to show it’s a genuine bona fide program.  These days (especially if you live next door to a person of interest) it’s called stalking.

Is it stalking when you follow them in the car because you both happen to leave your houses at the same time? That happened to me the other week.  He pulled out first (unbeknown to me) and I was on my way to tennis.  How was I supposed to know that he was traveling in my direction? For the longest time.  The longest time.  Suddenly I felt like a stalker yet all I was doing was doing what I always do on a Thursday morning.

It got so bad that I put my indicator on and moved into the right-hand lane ultra early so he’d know I had a purpose—and that purpose was not to follow him.  How was I supposed to know that he was turning right on that street too? Maybe he was stalking me? I’ve never been so relieved to see the tennis courts were up ahead and I was turning off thus ending the seemingly stalking-like behaviour.  (And, by the way, in case he was stalking me he now knows where I play tennis.)

There was the time Miss 14 and I were reversing out of house and we noticed his double doors that we hadn’t noticed before.  We were noticing how nice they looked. “Oh God mum, he’s caught us stalking him how embarrassing.”

“That’s not stalking, that’s admiring his doors,” I was quick to comment back.  Isn’t it?

Admiring our house

Maybe he’s a little paranoid of stalking us too.  He told me he loved our house and how pretty it is.  “If you catch me staring at your house it’s just because I think it’s so beautiful”.  (See, goes to argument of him stalking me.)

When we got our beautiful new gate put in, he fell in love with our house all over again.  My daughter was walking out the gates and caught him looking in.  “Just admiring your beautiful new gates,” he said.

When Mr 16 got his car and licence I saw him not long after and said, “Check it, I have my very own driver now.”

“I know,” he replied.

See?  See?  It’s not stalking to survey the scene, admire the renovations, goings on, check that everything is as it should be; look, notice and move on.  I think that’s healthy good neighbour behaviour.  And if he was anyone other that who he is then I wouldn’t even be having this conversation with you.

Mrs Mangle/Mrs Kravitz/Nosey neighbour

But at what point does “genuinely-interested-neighbourhood-watch-neighbour-who’s-not-a-stalker” turn into “nosey-neighbour”?

Nosey neighbours make great television.  Over the years there has been many a classic nosey neighbour (whom I hasten to add you love to hate).  They invented Neighbourhood Watch.

In conducting a little research I came across this post.

I get it—there are definitely those neighbours who gawk and spend hours out the window with curiosity at fever pitch.  But that’s not me.  Is it?

My 16-year old and I were out the front washing cars and he came out into his front yard.  We couldn’t see him, we could only hear him.  My first instinct was to yell over the fence, “Hi. Need your car washed?” But all I could think of was nosey Mrs Mangle from Neighbours or that Mrs Kravitz from Bewitched.

Remember this is the young lad that knocked on my door when he first bought the house?  I can say “hi” can’t I?

But instead we stayed quiet and pretended that we didn’t know he was there.  How lame is that?  I wanted to say hi, why shouldn’t I say hi but the kids’ paranoia coupled with my vision of Mrs Kravitz trying to catch her neighbours out stopped me dead in my tracks.

Instead of friendly neighbour saying hi all I could picture was that dreaded neighbour who comes out from out of the bushes every single time you head outside saying, “Yoohoo”.  Damn you stalkers and nosey neighbours.  You make it hard for us normal non-stalking stalkers to live.

Mrs Kravitz

Mrs Kravtiz from Bewitched (image copied from Michael in Madrid the Blog).

Bodyguards outside my house

I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned before that my daughter has a rather famous friend.  I think I may have but those of you who are new to the Blog might not know.  Anyway, this friend has been coming over to the house a bit lately.  His visit comes with a bodyguard.  Sometimes I know who the bodyguard will be, other times I don’t.

The first time I knew the bodyguard was going to be outside I thought I better text G to let him know the person sitting in the car outside my house is not paparazzi, nor a stalker but a bodyguard.

There’s quite a perk to having a bodyguard stationed outside your house.  Firstly, well it’s obvious, you feel safe.  And let’s face it in LA that’s as good as it gets.

Their very first “hang” I was told they’d be fine as the bodyguard would be there to watch over them.  I must admit my first thought was that’s all great but if something’s going to happen your bodyguard is paid to protect your son and my daughter might not be able to get the same level of protection.  I don’t know how this all works, it’s still new to me.

The second perk to having a bodyguard stationed out the front of your house is well … the couple I’ve met have been very easy on the eye.

Will the real nosey neighbour please stand up

The guy that lives opposite from us walks his dog 10 times a day.  He stops outside your house, looks in, lurks and lurks.  When we first moved in, he and his mates would sit in his garage talking for most of the day.  I thought this was fabulous: the best neighbourhood watch you can get.

Then when my gate and front fence were being put in my “gate guy” would report back on his chats through the day.  The real nosey neighbour was telling our gate guy about how the neighbours didn’t want our house built, how the lady on the corner asked everyone why they needed to tear down a perfectly good house to make way for a new one.  I’m pretty sure this guy knows everything that goes on at my place.  I warned G when he moved in.

We look straight into his place from ours so it’s actually much easier to stalk him than it is G next door.  We never really see anyone other than him.  Sometimes we see someone who may be his son, rarely see any females but there are three cars in their drive.  The one thing that strikes us though is the number of people who pull up, go into their garage and come out again.  Some come with packages, others don’t.  That’s what’s earnt him the nickname  “The Drug Dealer”.

In a further twist, one day I was at the kids school picking them up and there he was waiting in the carpark.  I have no idea who he was picking up.  I have no idea what he was doing there.

I’d know if someone from school lived near us as we have a carpool dating app.  The carpool dating app essentially allows us to hook up with our neighbours to arrange to carpool to and from school.  If you don’t carpool then you have to drop off ultra early and pick up ultra late so it’s in your best interests to hook up.  Plus it saves you driving the school every day.  And, in a very un-American twist they police it.

A real stalker would have stayed in the car to see just who he was picking up and work out exactly what he was doing there.  Was he making a drug delivery?

But alas, I’m a failure in the nosey neighbour/stalker department.

We haven’t seen the drug dealer at school since but the mind boggles.

Facebook stalking

I don’t know about you but I don’t have time to Facebook stalk.  I always forget to even when I think I should go into their page and see what’s been going on.  But, when I comment on someone’s post I get the notifications and occasionally one pops up and you think, “get out of town” or “that’s interesting”.

Over the weekend it was a friend’s birthday.  Birthday post notifications were coming in thick and fast.  One post caught my attention as I recognised the surname.  Yes, it was the wife of one of my fave actors, minding her own business commenting on a friend’s post just like I did, safe in obscurity.  Well from everyone that is but this alleged-not-so-good-at-being-nosey stalker.

Just another one of those, “Holy cow I do live in LA don’t I?” moments.

When good neighbours become good friends

Back to neighbours, or neighbourhood watch as the case might be.

When I was growing up one of my fondest memories was being outside painting with my Dad.  The neighbour dad comes out and says hi, two seconds later neighbour mum comes out saying come for a drink.  Next thing you know there were four neighbour families all having drinks, which turned to dinner and we didn’t leave til the wee hours in the morning. Fun times.

You tell me.  Be honest.  Pretend I’m still neighbours with Sue & Tony in Sydney, or Sue & John in Shanghai, or the neighbours I grew up with.  Do you think I’m nosey or a “stalker” or just a friendly neighbour?  I would think nothing of calling out to them, or inviting them over for a drink.  It would be rude if I didn’t.  Or they didn’t.

But they’re not actors whose every move are scrutinised in the tabloids I suppose.  Watch this space.

xx It Started in LA xx

Only in LA: The day a famous actor knocked on our door to introduce himself as our new neighbour | It Started in LA | itstartedinla.com
Celebrity, My LA story, Posts

The day a famous actor moved in next door

Moving to The Valley

I’m not living in 90210 anymore, instead I’m a “Valley Girl”.  There is a whole backstory (and a half) that goes along with the move but for now let me tell you this: I didn’t want to move; I wanted to keep my 90210 postcode.  Who wouldn’t?

Apart from loving the area, having friends close; we were surrounded by “celebrities” new and old, famous and infamous.  I knew there were many celebrities in the Valley too but most likely not in my street or little neighbourhood.

That’s where I was wrong.

Yep, my life is not scripted or made more dramatic for the Blog, my life is just very LA.  The day a ‘famous’ actor moved in next door.

When your neighbour turns out to be “so so famous”

The day we moved in our neighbours put up a For Sale sign.  Nice welcome.  Thank God they did because they weren’t very nice and not at all friendly.

Fast forward six or so weeks (the house sold within 10 days of being on the market) and the house was abuzz with renovation.  That afternoon I got a knock at the door.

(The shitty thing about moving down into the suburbs of The Valley is that it’s too easy to walk up and down the streets so we get every man and his dog wanting to sell us their wares and convert us to ‘see the light”.)

So that afternoon I get a knock on my door.  And it’s not someone in black pants and a white shirt or someone selling LA Times subscriptions.

At my door is a rather groovily dressed guy in hipster pants, a T-Shirt, and a red baseball cap.

“Hi.  My name is Glenn and I’ve just moved in next door.”

1.  Glenn is not his real name so you can forget about switching over to Google ‘Celebrities with the name Glenn’.

2.  He had the most delightful British accent—music to my ears.

He continues, “I’m so sorry about the noise, I’m renovating my house and I asked the guys to start at 7am but I heard they started at 6am.”

“No problems,” I replied.  “We’re up anyway and we didn’t even notice the noise.”

Did I mention he had a plant in hand, handing it over as a “peace offering”?

What beautiful manners was my first reaction.  It’s not often I’ve seen anyone here with such consideration for the neighbours let alone coming in with a thoughtful gift.  Ah! That’s because he’s not from these parts.

It was a short encounter, he handed over the gift, we exchanged pleasantries and I got on with my afternoon.  Actually, truth be told, I wasn’t very warm—I should have invited him in but I was so fearful of our dog weeing all over him that I barely had the door open wide enough for him to feel the least bit welcome.  And why is it that whenever I get a random knock at the door I’m looking like shite?

Celebrity next door?

That night as everyone was coming home we talked about how exciting it was to have a non-American neighbour (sorry American friends) who was thoughtful and youthful.  (I’ve guessed his age as mid to late 20s).  We haven’t had a great trot with neighbours so I didn’t want to get too carried away.  For now I reserve my judgement, on a scale of 1 to 10, as 7.0—hopeful.

My daughter asked me what the neighbour did.

“I don’t know, we didn’t get that far,” I said.  “I assume he’s an actor.”

My daughter laughed at me.  “Mum, you just assume everyone in LA is an actor.  Or at least in Entertainment. They don’t have to be you know; you’re so weird.”

She was right of course.  He didn’t look like an actor, he was totally unassuming and he was incredibly nice and polite.

So we started talking about the assumptions you make when you live in a certain place.

“What would you assume he did if we were in Sydney?” my daughter asked. “Well most people in Sydney work traditional hours.  I guess he would be in IT (working from home).”

In Wales it’s easy as many people work shift work. In China … well I don’t think that would happen as everyone goes to an office–maybe work in hospitality but by that time of day they would already be at work.

So I saw Glenn a number of times as he set about renovating his house to move in.

He moved in and there was music coming from his backyard and a bit of life in what is otherwise a quiet neighbourhood.  it was good.  A week later, as he kids had friends over with the music going, there was a little gathering going on next door.

My son’s British friend noted, “your new neighbours are lit.”

“Yeah right”, I said, “He’s British.”  We laughed and thought nothing more of it.

Than we noticed our dream car—Audi R8—outside the front of our house.

He must totally be an actor.

Living next door to a celebrity

Another week goes by and one night my daughter sees “someone” coming and going from our neighbour’s house. She yells from her room.

“Mum, there’s a famous guy next door.  Is he visiting or is our neighbour famous?”

“I’m not sure honey, let’s see.”

By some stroke of a miracle the “famous guy” comes back down his drive.

“Oh honey, that’s Glenn.  That’s our neighbour.”

Squeals of delight and excitement ensue with a shrill only a 13 year-old can pull off.  In one Snapchat her entire friend network knows the news.

More screams.

“Oh my God, I’m pretty sure I just read he recently moved in with his girlfriend. And <screams> you know who it is? It’s Hannah Montana (clearly NOT a real person but I’m not going to divulge her real name and you get the idea that we’re actually talking about someone with HIGH name recognition amongst the tweens and teens).

More squeals … and lots of Googling.

“Oh my God, oh my God, I’m living next door to HANNAH MONTANA.”

And so, my fear of moving away from the celebrity action couldn’t be further from the truth.  Instead I have a bona fide ‘it’ couple living right next door to me.

Ah LA you never cease to amaze.

xx It Started in LA xx

Paps
Celebrity, Posts

My brush with the Paparazzi

One of my goals in coming to LA was to see paparazzi in action, I’m intrigued by them and their business.  When I moved here I thought I’d see them everywhere, just lurking.  Contrary to popular opinion they’re not.  Much to my disgust.  We’d go to cool restaurants, I was shopping at the right supermarkets but it took me ages to see a pap in action.

You see, a lot of the time they’re hiding somewhere and you might not know they’re around.  We even had paps up the road from us when we first moved in and I didn’t see them.

But I’m more tuned in now.  The other week I was showing a guest around The Grove and we saw two guys working together trying to pap someone.  We watched them in action for a while but couldn’t see who they were following.  A big part of my problem is that I don’t recognise people unless they’re George. Or Leo. Or JLo.  Or Joan Collins!

I’ve had a few brushes with paps now.  All at my favourite restaurant in fact.  The first time was Golden Globes weekend which I wrote about.  It was so exciting; I was beside myself as the flashes went off all night.

On one of our subsequent visits to this same restaurant I hopped out of the car as usual and there were two paps waiting.  One of them came up to me saying like I looked like one of the past winners (or runners-up) on The Voice or American Idol.  I was this close to being papped (a bee’s dick!) for real.

Fast forward to last Saturday night and there were more paps here again–more than Golden Globes weekend for Joshua Jackson and Diane Kruger.  Inside JLo and Mary J Blige were having dinner.  I was seeing off a friend visiting from Australia and as we walked outside there they all were.  So I thought I’d pose for the cameras, take it all in and enjoy it.  I’ve got pics here on my Facebook page.  It was so fun I tried it five times.  I got to try out my pap reactions a number of different times:

  1. a look of surprise, oh are you here to see me?
  2. acknowledge, be cool, wave hello, keep walking
  3. a different angle
  4. the hand over the face, please don’t pap me look
  5. you really should pap me because I’m incredibly famous in Australia you know.  I’m on Neighbours.

You got to have a bit of fun don’t you?  In fact I should have offered JLo my services in entertaining them for her while she escaped.  I sort of did.  As she was leaving via a back door I shook her hand to thank her for all the paps I got to see in action–the most I’ve ever seen in one night.  Poor JLo didn’t know what hit her.

It turns out our driver helped with the deflection–to make out he was JLo’s driver and I was JLo for the second time that night.  There weren’t as many there when we left so there might’ve been a tip-off that she wasn’t coming out the front door.

The next night we were at our favourite local Deli having home-cooked roasts and Jon Voight was there having dinner.  It’s not the first time we’ve seen him there, he’s a bit of a regular.  But alas no paps for him.  I don’t suppose he sells mags.

It got me thinking: what gets pap out to catch “that” shot.  Rather who.  It has to be someone that magazine editors will buy because that’s how they make their money.  I’ve even seen paps at our local getting pics of Gene Simmons so what makes him more pap-worthy than the extremely talented Jon Voight?

I was hoping to get some insights from someone who works in the industry but sadly I don’t have anything to share.  If I find out more I’ll be sure to update and share it with you.

Meanwhile I’ll keep my eyes peeled for the paps and keep reporting back on what I see.  When Harry moves in down the road I dare say we’ll see a few around our street so that’ll be fun.  Wouldn’t it be great to go out with one for the day and document their day?  There’s an idea.  I’ll get to work on that for you dear readers!

Meanwhile … enjoy your week.  The weather here in LA is divine as Spring is in the air and feeling generally warmer.  Always puts a Spring in my step. LOL.

Keep smiling.

xx It Started in LA xx

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