What To Do When Your Back Is Against The Wall


“The Italian Wall” is a bane to The Redneck Princess. From this angle it doesn’t look to me like a major eyesore but the imposition of obstructions can be vexing to those who for many years have had the benefit of scenic vistas.
Photo courtesy TheRedneckPrincess.net… if “courtesy” means that I snagged it off her site without her express permission.

Welcome back, boys and girls, to Uncle HoaiPhai’s problem solving club!

This week we will be tackling a problem The Redneck Princess is having with her neighbours in Abbottabad Abbotsford, BC — a problem so vexing to her that she has written at least twice about it on her own blog, here and here.

She wrote me quite a while ago—information gathering on a shoestring is a tough task to accomplish quickly when the problem solver and solvee are at opposite ends of the continent—to take me up on my offering my rather unconventional problem solving skills to my readers. Here’s what she had to say in her appeal for my assistance…

“Well you can decide whether it is total post worthy. The neighbours are here from June til like now. From Italy. They had a cute little three foot fence which they ripped down and built the 12 foot wall of Italy. Supposedly to stop their tied up and neglected dogs from barking. It didn’t work. I then called the dog police. Dogs are considerably quieter now. Who said threats don’t work? But now there is an illegal 12 foot badly built fence. The authorities have been contacted, and have witnessed said fence. Did I mention they may hate us now? And…we have zero river view, Which was part of my castle’s charm…”

… and …

“Well I look very forward to your solution. And if you need photos of the Italian wall and its horrid construction…let me know.”


The Princess’ neighbourhood’s Homeowners’ Association looks on in horror as construction proceeds on the dreaded “Italian Wall”.

Dear Princess,

How can I refuse a request for help from one of my oldest¹ and most loyal readers on my daughter’s wedding day²?


Compare the property before The Princess’ neighbours lived there [left] to after they moved in and completed construction on their house and wall [right]. I can now understand why everyone is up in arms over this.

The first thing you must do is sit down and give some long hard thought to whether you really want that wall to come down. What if they put up that wall because the are “sun worshipers” who want a little privacy for nude gardening and their bodies are not delectable enough for you to want to see them lugging 50 lb. bags of sheep manure around their yard on humid summer afternoons? What if that wall acts as acoustic insulation that spares your ears from their non-stop playing of Justin Bieber music? What if that wall prevents you from seeing their sacrilegious preparation and consumption of club sandwiches that include cheese³? Would taking down the wall be worth it in any of these cases?


A compound fit for the King of the Tomato-Gardening Nudists. My sources tell me the open space seen at the left is devoted to tomato agriculture and the smaller triangular space in the extreme right corner is used to torment their dogs by exposing them to non-stop Justin Bieber music. The SPCA tells me that as a result the dogs now reflexively vomit as soon as they get on stage and “sit up and beg” every time their owner asks them if they want to be sent to a Brazilian doggy stud farm.

Walls are funny things — things seem to change when they go up but taking them down doesn’t always return everything to the way things were before. Remember The Wall of Jericho? Remember The Berlin Wall? My family had a hand in both those walls coming down and not only do I want to help you regain your view but if I don’t get my eBay orders from Hong Kong pretty soon the Great Wall of China will no longer be visible from space, if you catch my drift.


Wow! The Princess wasn’t kidding when she said that the fence spoiled her view of the water!
[This image was originally posted to Flickr by Sajjad Ali Qureshi at http://flickr.com/photos/34015932@N00/5708716953%5D

So, let’s get down to the mechanics of the whole thing. Assuming you’ve really had enough of The Italian Wall, you can…

  • Ask them politely to take it down. They probably won’t comply because of the huge load of Lira they’ve spent building the thing, plus they probably are not interested in having people point (and laugh) at their naked bum-bums during tomato harvest time.
  • Casually walk by while generously sprinkling termites (available from TermitesRUs.com) about the wall’s base. This is a cheap sure-fire solution although there are two things to consider: 1. It will probably take more than a year for The Wall to fall, and, 2. The termites will likely migrate throughout the neighbourhood and might even end up making a snack out of your own house.
  • Encourage local teens to graffiti the pants off The Wall. Craig’s List seems like a good starting point for the recruitment process. Offer to supply the paint if the messages are vile enough to warrant the city to compel the alleged nudist gardeners to constantly paint over the graffiti. After a while your neighbours will probably choose to just remove the taggers’ canvas. Pray none of the kids rat you out or accept a bribe from the Euro Beliebers to tag your property.
  • Douse the fence with a flammable liquid — I recommend a nice lavender-scented lamp oil — and torch it. The problem with this solution is that it’s tough to look inconspicuous when you smell of kerosene while briskly walking away from a 50-foot floral-scented inferno.
  • Sneak over to their place before they wake up in the morning and string a steel cable around their car’s rear axle and weave it through The Wall’s posts sort of like what Richard Dreyfuss did to the cop car in American Graffiti. Whether it pulls the whole wall down or just yanks the car’s axle off I’m pretty sure you’ll feel a whole lot better. Please post the video on YouTube under an assumed name and P.M. me the link!
  • Take a trip south of the border and stop off at any American army surplus store that has a pets department. The CIA started genetic engineering dogs that pee nitric acid in the late ’90s and if you can get your hands on one, this would provide a most elegant and hard-to-trace solution to your problem. Take G.I. Fido out for walkies and have him piddle on The Wall. The nitric acid will react with the cellulose in the wood to convert whatever parts of the wall Fido saturates into the low-order (and not too stable) explosive nitrocellulose. If over the course of weeks your dog can apply “nitrating agent” along the  entire length of the wall’s base then all it would take is one careless smoker (or even a firefly with a short-circuit) to blow the wall to Kingdom Come.

So there you go, Princess. I really hope that helps. If things go really well, maybe they’ll move out in a hurry and you’ll be able to get some fresh tomatoes dirty cheap at their garage sale! Let me know how things work out!


¹ I mean “oldest” in terms of how long you’ve been reading my blog and not in terms of how many candles are on your birthday cake.

² Not only am I not Sicilian, I don’t even have a daughter! It’s just that I’ve been seriously considering committing my next day off to a Godfather triathlon.

³ Here are the layers of a club sandwich, starting from the bottom and working our way up: Toast, butter, chicken or turkey, salt, lettuce, toast, tomato, ground pepper, bacon, mayonnaise, toast. Toothpicks to hold it all together are optional but any deviation from this list is a deal-breaker. Adding cheese or omitting any ingredient other than the mayo may result in a sandwich, but a club it is not. We’ll turn a blind eye to using margarine instead of butter, too.

checkerBy the way,

Happy New Year!

May you and yours have a prosperous, healthy, and fun 2014!

About HoaiPhai

I'm up late digging up the dirt. View all posts by HoaiPhai

17 responses to “What To Do When Your Back Is Against The Wall

  • annerose

    Happy New Year!

  • Redneckprincess

    Okay….totally laughed my ass right off, which is awesome because it’s New Year’s Day and I gained about 15 pounds over Christmas. The only problem I see is that I live in Campbell River, Abbotsford is a city with far more gang violence than we have about 6 hours and a badass ferry ride away. The Italians are back in Italy now, and apparently the city has made a decision on whether the fence stays or goes, we just won’t know what it is til spring. Til then, we are safe from naked farming and graffiti hits…I will keep all your fabulous suggestions on file, you never know what may happen !! Happy new year my friend xo

    • HoaiPhai

      Princess, Princess, Princess. I know you live in Campbell River but a), I didn’t want to divulge your exact location, and b), the Abbottabad/Abbotsford switcheroo worked, literarily speaking. I’m glad you got a laugh out of it — even if you had to wait months for it — and don’t worry about the Yuletide tonnage… I’m sure it’ll burn off as soon as gardening season rolls around. Me, on the other hand, got married wearing a size 30 or 32 belt and 20 years later my size 38 belts are contemplating retirement in response to my waistline moving up in the world. My wife and I are good cooks all year around and the only exercise I get is because of the brick I attached to the Blu-Ray remote with broccoli elastics and my 25 lb. camera bag.

      Happy New Year!

      • Redneckprincess

        Lol…I figured you were covering for me, but dude. Abbotsford? 🙂 I hope you have a fabulous New Year!!!

      • HoaiPhai

        Sorry about the choice of cities… it’s just that it sounds a lot like where they found Bin Laden and if I lived in Abbotsford I might want to put up a 12 foot wall, too! So, what’s the body count in Abbotsford so far this year? I have a funny feeling that, for a change, some decent money is coming my way this year. I had an idea that might be workable that could open doors. If things work out and I do make an assload of money I’ll buy the Walled Palace, de-wall it, and pledge not to garden in the nude.

      • Redneckprincess

        Well, we thank you in advance for not gardening in the nude…

      • HoaiPhai

        I only mentioned that to underscore the sort of trouble-free neighbour I’d be compared to the last tenants. The truth is that my gardening in the nude would be a mixed blessing… I would probably scare off some cougars while attracting others.

  • gingerfightback

    Practical and affordable tips, although Bieber…….?

  • Carl D'Agostino

    Brilliant-Dave Barry and Garrison Keillor I am sure would enjoy the post as well. Perhaps hire Attila the Hun who I understand was very good at taking down Italian walls.

    • HoaiPhai

      Possibly the highest compliment I have ever been paid… thank you! I love Dave Barry! Ever read his book “Dave Barry Slept Here (A Sort-of History of the United States)”? Oh, it’s great.

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