Dardanelle Towers 4 – Executive Perks

. March 28, 2017
What a find! Tucked away in a forgotten corner of a back-up computer drive (if they even have corners) we came across a lost set of minutes from Dardanelle Towers, the most dysfunctional strata scheme in Australia.  Do you know this place? Is it real? Do you live there?  Read on.

It was a very subdued meeting of the Executive Committee of Dardanelle Towers last time round, thank mainly to a human whirlwind called Ms Pepper McNulty.

Pepper –  “I’m hotter than I look … and that’s saying something” –  had arrived in a maelstrom of real estate activity having bought 1303 from a minor television celebrity whose house-husband boyfriend had been taken away to “help police with their enquiries” and had never been returned.

Whether he had been more helpful than he had planned or had just been locked away and forgotten, like a library book, was never established but no sooner had a single file of police officers left carrying computers, documents and large bags of what looked like dish washer powder, the property was up for sale.  And no sooner had it gone on sale that Pepper McNulty had snapped it up.

Pepper, it turned out, was a consultant in executive redeployment – which meant that it was her job to help executives find new jobs when their existing jobs ceased to exist –often due to the fact that they weren’t very good at those jobs to begin with. In other words, she was working in unemployment – one of the few growth areas in the post credit crunch business world.

Pepper very quickly ascertained that there was a vacancy on our executive committee and pointed out that if she wanted it – and she did – and in the absence of any other candidates, we pretty much had to give it to her.

Even so, the committee was divided, albeit along gender lines which may have had something to do with the fact that Pepper had long red hair, was 5 foot 8 with all her bumps in the right places and a twinkle in her eye that suggested she had seen more than a lady really should.

Mrs Alexander swore blind she had seen Harold
Holt while on a package tour to Beijing in 1998

Lady Luckby objected most vociferously. “Redheads are trouble,” she said. “Men go ga-ga for them and women don’t trust them; they cause trouble merely by existing.” There was a tone in her voice that suggested she believed redheads should be drowned at birth like left-handers, Left-wingers and Lutherans.

“It was a redhead that stole away my Arthur,” she sighed.  Lady L’s 82-year-old gentleman friend Arthur had indeed been charmed away by Elsie Duggan, a mere slip of a septuagenarian with lividly dyed hair.  Elsie’s hair, truth be told, was more purple than red but tints and tones are irrelevant in matters of the heart.

Mrs Alexander (the all-seeing eye) claimed she had seem Pepper coming out of the alleged drug den while it was still occupied by the minor TV personality and her dubious beau.  But then Mrs Alexander swore blind she had seen Harold Holt while on a package tour to Beijing in 1998.

Elena was a little less forthcoming about her reservations but eventually admitted that she found Pepper’s ample and highly visible cleavage a distraction.  Dr Macdonald claimed he hadn’t noticed, which was surprising since his gaze seemed pointed in its general direction whenever she was in the room.

Jonathan was similarly entranced, even if his guarded questions about Pepper’s marital status were ignored with a flutter of her unfeasibly long eyelashes and a rapid change of subject. In fact, her coyness on the matter was misinterpreted by Jonathan as a charming shyness which, he thought, was an attempt to conceal an instant affection for him.  It must be said here that Jonathan’s ability to “read” women is akin to a cat’s ability to read Braille – a lot of pawing without any discernible message getting through.

Bernard, our chairman, was more taken by Pepper’s energy which seemed to be boundless, while Ms Tran was impressed with her lengthy CV and her expressed willingness to help with paperwork.  Thus, as much as she had manoeuvred her way on to the Executive Committee, it was generally agreed that she was exactly the injection of energy and talent that we needed.

Even Mr Wilson, the caretaker, who regards every new resident as an educational challenge on a par with lion taming and “Ladettes to Ladies” declared her not only to be an ideal EC member but the perfect neighbour too.  What the exact definition of perfection was in either an owner or a member of the EC remained a mystery as, when asked, Mr Wilson would turn reddish – or as pale pink as his 40-a-day pallor would allow – then change the subject to something more interesting … like drains.

So Pepper McNulty was duly elected and immediately volunteered for a number of sub-committees – lobby makeover, lift renovation and gardens – although due to her busy schedule she wouldn’t be able to attend any of their meetings in the first few weeks.  She would, however, like our permission to install wooden flooring.

This drew a sharp collective intake of breath.  The issue of wooden floors has been the source of many a bitter conflict in Dardanelle Towers.  Some people think it’s their divine right to lift their carpets, polish their floorboards and stomp around like Flamenco dancers to the insanity-inducing distress of their downstairs neighbours.  If they don’t like it, they should move out, seems to be the prevailing view.

So Bernard, whose apartment is directly beneath Pepper’s, and Mr Wilson had devised a very strict set of specifications for sound insulation.  To our surprise and delight, Pepper showed us what her floor installer proposed – a quality far in excess of what we required.  She bashfully said she just wanted to be a good neighbour and money was a secondary consideration.

The arrival of the partygoers sounded like a herd
of wildebeest migration across his ceiling.

Over the next two weeks, as workmen came and went from her apartment, Pepper  helped Mrs Tran with the minutes, including a detailed summary of our permission for her floor.  But then, just as suddenly as she had come, she was gone, called away to London where, it seemed, executives were being sacked in even greater numbers than they were here.

Well, she wasn’t quite gone.  The night after the varnish finally dried on her wooden floor, she threw a huge combined house-warming and farewell party.  That’s when we discovered the specifications of her flooring were exaggerated if not completely fabricated. According to Bernard the arrival of the partygoers sounded like a herd of wildebeest migration across his ceiling.

That was bad enough but when the full-blown disco started up at 11pm and only stopped when the police arrived – for the second time – at 3 am, we began to realise that Pepper was not the perfect neighbour she wanted us to think she was.  We only had ourselves to blame, although some were more culpable than others: Jonathan and Dr Macdonald were spotted helping the mobile disco operator to load his gear into the lift.

Bernard suffered most, mainly because he was right under the noise.  Unfortunately you need an electronic swipe card to operate the lift and that only takes you to your own floor so he couldn’t even go and complain in person and Pepper wasn’t answering her phone (probably for the simple reason that she couldn’t hear it over the din).

So Bernard kept ringing Mr Wilson – who has access to all floors – but it was 2 am before he got hold of him.  It was only when he held the phone away from his ear and realised the music in the background of wherever Mr Wilson was talking was the same as what he could hear from above, that Bernard cottoned on to the fact that Mr Wilson was at Pepper’s party.

Hence the subdued tone of the last meeting.  Pepper had gone, leaving a trail of “notices to comply” in her wake.  Mr Wilson, Jonathan and Dr Macdonald were all in disgrace and Bernard was exhausted from the sleepless nights he had endured as Pepper clattered around her apartment – the floor of which acted like a giant castanet against the concrete – packing in preparation for her departure.

“I only hope she rents it out to someone who doesn’t wear shoes indoors, like Bhuddists,” he sighed.

“Nudists? We don’t want nudists in the building,” say Lady Luckby. “Lord knows what you might see when they’re picking up their mail?”

It may have been the sleep deprivation, it may have been the frustration of having to deal with someone so plausible but utterly dishonest as Pepper, but Bernard, totally uncharacteristically, snapped.

“Bhuddists! Not nudists,” he yelled at Lady L. “Why don’t you get a hearing aid you deaf old bat?”

“Get an earring made from a dead old cat?” she asked, puzzled.  “I’d sooner put a bone through my nose.”

Bernard slumped forward and sunk his face into his hands.  He took a deep breat and looked up.  “I’m really, sorry, Lady Luckby.  That was uncalled for.”

He could barely look at her, he was so ashamed. But finally he faced her, red-eyed and apologetic.

And realised she was asleep.

PREVIOUSLY:

Episode 1: The Naked Truth

Episode 2: Gimme Shelter

Episode 3: Parking Mad

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