"You can take my leaf-blower from my cold, dead hands!"

There is never any peace in Herne Bay. There’s too much money

3.20pm, Thursday, January 31. The guy who’s employed by the rich folks who live down the path two properties away from our house started leaf-blowing in the grounds of  the top house 20 minutes ago.

We abandoned our afternoon coffee in the garden, as we regularly have to, because of the intolerable noise. It’s not just him of course. The tree-lined avenues of Herne Bay are probably one of the noisiest places in Auckland: leaf-blowers, petrol-driven hedge trimmers, lawnmowers, weed-eaters,  chain saws, water-blasters, concrete-cutters, and every conceivable noise associated with house renovation and house-building.

3.35pm Thursday, January 31. The guy who’s employed by the rich folks who live down the path two properties away from our house has emerged from the grounds of the top house and begun to drive the leaves down the path towards the second house.

I could keep giving you reports on his progress, but I already know that he’ll finish leaf-blowing the houses on the path (and the path itself) at around 5 o’clock,  two hours after he started.

I know this because I bailed him up one evening and, with as much politeness as my frazzled nerves would allow, asked him how long leaf-blowing the grounds of the rich folks’ houses and the path that connects them would take.

“About two hours,” he told me.

It was around 6.15pm on a beautiful summer evening on that occasion and I told him I thought it was pretty unreasonable to be making all this racket when most civilised people at that time would rather be listening to the birds than his leaf-blower.

“Well, what do you want me to do?” he asked.

“I’d like you to stop.”

“OK,”  he said.  “I’ll come back and finish in the morning.”

So I thought he was a pretty reasonable guy. 

4pm, Thursday, January 31. He’s blown the leaves about half way down the path by now.

A second leaf-blower on the other side of the road, is calling out to his.

One of the army of contract gardeners who service Herne Bay, has fired up his petrol-driven hedge-trimmer and is making a start on one of the many 10ft high hedges in the street. Herne Bay people value their privacy.

5pm, Thursday, January 31: Is still an hour away. It’s possible that by then I may have committed murder or quite possibly mass-murder, a la Falling Down, because I know that there will not be a single moment between now and then that some sort of machine will not be operating within earshot of our home.

There is never any peace in Herne Bay, not for a moment.

There’s too much money around here to give peace a chance – too many homes and gardens that just have to be built and extended and re-built and  improved and improved and improved. 

To paraphrase the old Chinese saying: House finished, Herne Bay man (and Herne Bay man’s wife) die.

If all of this sounds familiar to you, it’s because I’ve written about it twice before.

On days like today when I’m on the verge of silently beating my neighbours and their staff to death with a leaf-rake (leaf-rakes make no noise), I get some comfort from reading what I wrote of this topic  in the original ‘Leaf-Blower Hell’ four years ago. It’s just so wonderfully intemperate! Enjoy:

The original ‘Leaf-Blower Hell’
A bullet to the brain is too humane a punishment for the vandal who invented the leaf-blower.

He deserves to be hung, drawn, quartered, then reassembled so that the whole process can start again.  And again and again and again. 

When he finally expires, his head should be impaled atop the Sky Tower, church bells rung joyously across the land and his bloody confession nailed to the door of every Mitre 10, every Placemakers, every Bunnings Warehouse, every garden centre and hardware store in Aotearoa.

They have polluted the air with noise.

They have disturbed the peace. 

They have profited from the sufferings of their fellow man.

‘And woman!’ [Judy]

Now here’s the thing about leaf-blowers:

Of all the so-called ‘labour-saving’ devices, other perhaps than the chainsaw, the leaf-blower is the loudest, most annoying  and most brain-frazzling.

Of all the labour saving devices, other perhaps than the battery operated revolving ice-cream cone – yes, they do exist –  the leaf-blower is the most unnecessary. Autumn leaves not merely make our paths and verges look more beautiful, they are genetically programmed to resist permanent transfer from one place to another.

Of all the labour saving devices, other perhaps than the high voltage fly zapper, shaped like a tennis racket – yes again – the leaf-blower is the least efficient. The humble garden rake does the job better, faster and more cheaply.

Of all the labour saving devices, including the water blaster, the leaf-blower has become the must-have, can’t-do-without boys toy cum status symbol cum penis extension of the 21st century. Every bugger has one.

And that is the nub of the problem. You see, if everyone used their leaf-blower – and their weed-eater and their hedge-trimmer and their lawnmower and their chainsaw -   at the same time on the same day each week, say Saturday afternoon between three and five, there might well be a danger of the earth moving a degree or two on its axis, but at least it would be quiet for the rest of the week. And either global warming would be halted or the weather would be nicer.

When I suggested this at a party recently, a guy told me that one of the Scandinavian countries – Denmark or Finland or some such place – already has a law along these lines.

So why not here? Because every time someone tries to do something beneficial to the environment or likely to improve the quality of our lives, the great unwashed start screaming ‘nanny state’ and demanding their Godzone given right to do whatever the f*** they like,  whenever the f*** they like, wherever the f*** they like.

Most of these cretins are men and most of them are more in love with their noisy power-driven ‘labour saving devices’ than they are with their wives or children. The leaf-blower is to the Kiwi bloke the equivalent of the gun to the good ol’ boy in the US of A. “You can take my leaf-blower from my cold, dead hands!’

We’ve got a few in our street. I’m convinced they’ve got a roster to ensure that there’s always one leaf-blower in operation during daylight hours and occasionally after dark. And if they can’t be there themselves they’ve got an army of gardeners who wouldn’t recognise a rake if they stood on it and the handle flew up and hit them in the face. (Cherish the thought!)

I’ve got to stop now. A neighbour’s alarm has just gone off, Telecom are using a concrete cutter to dig a post hole across the road, the Green Acres guy has started up his petrol-driven hedge-trimmer next door and Max is yelling because he wants to show me the live rat he just dragged through the cat door.

You know the trouble with the ‘nanny state’? It never went far enough.

Media trainer and commentator Dr Brian Edwards blogs at Brian Edwards Media

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17 Comments & Questions

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You could stop whining about suburbia and go where only the occasional cow makes a bit of noise. Why not 'moove' to Coatesville.

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Or perhaps down here in Tasman, where the occasional rooster crow is readily silenced by the report of a gunshot.. God, you have to love the smell of black powder and shotgun residue first thing in the morning.

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Its only a matter of time Malcolm, and the march of the leaf blowers wlll be in your locality soon.

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Noise pollution, well said Mr Edwards!
Used to be that my Auckland home was on one of the city's busiest urban thoroughfares, so much so the super city is intent on pursuing the earlier plans dreamt up by an idiot 20 years ago to widen and put a bus lane in. Problem is the traffic has since dropped by 2/3 for a whole bunch of reasons and the street is positively idyllic. We and neighbours joke that at a weekend we could put deck chairs and a BBQ out in the lanes between light phases. What this change in traffic and demographic use has brought is that we can actually now hear the songbirds and the motorway drone is a very long way away. I've started noticing the mowers and blowers and how short my memory from the broken mufflers of cars doing a 200 metre flat-to-the floor dash between traffic lights. While agreeing with Mr Edwards wholeheartedly, I might also add though the mind-warping clatter of diesel behemoth buses subsidised by us to meander the streets with few, if any, passengers or sit idling noisily at our front door while the driver has a constitutional before blasting again full throttle to his next victim.

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Well, Moana, in life you have choices. If you want to live in one of the wealthiest areas of Auckland, you will have to put up with trades people trying to earn a crust, and, unfortunately, trades people are the scurge of society as they are not allowed to earn a decent hourly rate - the wealthy help see to that by scre+ing their quotes to death, so they have to work long daily hours 6 days per week. Moana, obviously you badly need to move out into the country ide where animals do the jobs that you are complaining of, but then, and I speak from experience, if the neighbour's dog should happen to bark, you will probably get a fright and spill your coffee anyway. Moana, there is more to life, let me assure you, but you do have choices so do something about it other than moan your t*ts off. I did - Hawke's Bay is paradise ... an ex-tradie.

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Agree with Brian, but the real mind-blowing enrager is the pointlessness of it, the leaves just blow back! Most leaf blowers have a suck mode which removes the leaves and grass, but people are too lazy to use this as they have to carry the stuff to a dropping point and it gets heavy. Sooo...... they inanely push the detritus around the section driving everyone nearby nuts. I suggest ninja attacks in the night to find and smash the machines, and protests outside stores which sell such devices of torture.

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You should complain, doc? My neanderthal neighbour has his blower permanently affixed to a branch, with an auxillary fuel hose connected to a 40 gallon drum of diesel, so that it runs all the time providing him with a rush of air as he lazes in his hammock.

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Diesel?

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Meant, 2 stroke.

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I've got a leaf-eater, which mulches so I can put them in the compost. I wear ear defenders so it doesn't annoy me. My neighbour's dog barks at his lawnmower.

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Leaf blowers are the biggest pain in the a*se ever invented. Buy an old car for $500. Put in it a $1000 stereo with massive subwoofers. Every time the neighbour's minimum wager cranks up the leaf blower park the car outside their house and let the stereo rip for two hours after the leaf blower stops. Death Metal is the best. Not the good toe-tapping stuff, either - really dreadful screaming anguish.

If all else fails, move to Hawaii. There, everyone has leaf blowers but at least the gun control laws are lax.

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If that's all you can write about Brian life must be good.

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You'll be surprised to learn, Anonymous, that this isn't the only thing I've written. Cheers. Not Anonymous

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I live in a "leafy" street in Epsom, where the leaves from monstrous council-owned deciduous trees (which they refuse to trim because they add 'natural character') continually block my stormwater drains and cause my basement to flood. So I spent several hundred dollars on a leaf blower to combat the leaves before they get into my drains. If you'd like to come down with your rake every couple of days and sort them out, I'd be more than happy to put the leaf blower on Trade Me.

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What's the problem? You should get on the case some of the good citizens who reduced the stock car noise level at Western Springs.

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Ha ha life's tough in Hernia Bay! My heart bleeds for you, poor Brian. Heh heh. Nice article though.

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You could always move to Otara, I am sure there are no leaf blowers there; but of course you won't. Be happy for what you have, you know the rules: you live in an urban environment where you can't pick or dictate to your neighbours, get over it or move to the country.

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