There's gentrified and there's over-gentrified, wails Wendyl Nissen.
Every week I write a column for a magazine in which I answer people's life questions concerning romance, sex, neighbours at war, interfering mothers-in-law and creepy bosses.
I'm an Agony Aunt and I rather enjoy my role tapping out advice, hoping that in some way it may help people when it's published weeks after they wrote their letter. The role taps into the fact that I consider myself an expert on everything and have an opinion everyone should hear.
The only problem with being an Agony Aunt, however, is who helps the Agony Aunt when she has a problem? This week I wanted to write her this letter:
"Dear Wendyl, In the past few months three houses on my inner city street have sold for inordinate amounts of money which, according to the Occupy movement, only 1 per cent of the population could afford.
When the new owners turn up they aren't the sort of people I'm used to in my neighbourhood. They drive expensive cars, wear Ed Hardy clothing, and set about tearing apart the houses they have bought, replacing timber with chrome, gardens with swimming pools and grass with concrete. I feel like I'm in a movie where the aliens are invading. What should I do?"
Had this letter been written by anyone but me I would have cut it so that it ended up as:
"Dear Wendyl, I am a green hippie who keeps hens and I don't like people who are newly rich and flashy. They now live in my street and I don't want them to. Help."
Then I would have replied: "Now you know how everyone else felt in the inner city in the 70s when people like you moved in and bought up the houses in their street, looking down your middle-class noses at their working class lives. It's called gentrification and the fact that your new neighbours have more in common with the Kardashians than the art connoisseurs you would prefer is beyond your control. Take them some of your free-range eggs, then consider moving out West where you belong."
Fortunately, I don't take my own advice, so I've opted for a different approach to being out-gentrified as upper class ousts middle-class.
I'm branding myself as the "worst house on the street" woman as a protest. It hasn't taken much work as our house already does a fairly good impression of having been "let go".
I've taken to throwing things out on the kerb I don't want, such as old piping and broken hoses.
I've also taken to stopping and staring a lot when I pass their houses and making helpful comments like: "That window you just ripped out would be over 100-years-old. Amazing old glass, not to mention the kauri joinery," I told one of them.
He flashed me a smile revealing his cosmetically enhanced teeth, which were competing with the Ed Hardy sequins on his T-shirt, to dazzle me.
"Yes, it is amazing," he said. "Just got $3000 for it on Trade Me. Plenty more where that came from."
Then he brandished a circular saw and started freestyling a hole for a door through the kauri weatherboards.