Brian Dillon at Cabinet Magazine:
For at least forty years and very likely more, my father’s sister maintained a feud with her next-door neighbors (both sides) that slowly came to dominate her life, a quarrel from which it seemed to us—the rest of her family—she drew a malign sort of energy and out of which, despite the best efforts of all, she could not finally be extricated.
She had inherited the problem—I almost wrote project—from her parents, who moved into the redbrick suburban Dublin house with their three children (then in teens and twenties) in the late 1940s. Who knows how it all began. My grandfather was a bully and a snob, a former soldier and police sergeant with a greatly inflated sense of his moral and social standing. Some measure of his character may be gleaned from the fact that when he retired early from the police in the 1950s, he got a job as a debt collector—but a debt collector for a chain of toy stores. Imagine the old bastard cycling up your street one fine spring morning, his saddlebag full of confiscated gifts: the spirit of Christmas repossessed. My guess is a man of his sort easily took offense at some small infringement of a boundary: a hedge trimmed too far in his direction, a woodpile carelessly edging into his garden, something of that sort. Maybe his children rolled their eyes at the sight of Daddy in the garden at dusk, his Hitchcock silhouette tapering to a pair of bicycle clips, pointing and shouting at the hedge.