It all started with a note.
Late last week, I was walking long the road I live on in Brixton, London, when I spotted a note affixed to a tree. “Please don’t pick my flowers. Thank you,” read the note, pinned just above a flowering lupin. Pretty innocuous, you might think.
The other residents on my street didn’t seem to think so.
By Saturday afternoon, the tree, once adorned by flowers, was now bedecked with handwritten notes, encased in plastic wallets.
The lupin was now nowhere to be seen and, in its place, appeared to be the paper equivalent of a blazing argument.
“In an area massively affected by gentrification, it’s sad to see people claiming ownership of even the flowers,” read the first note, pinned below the original.
“Flowers on the public pavement are owned by all the community, not just the house they happen to fall in front of,” read a pink Post-It Note, with four hand-drawn rhetorical flowers.
“Are you serious? This is not about ownership or gentrification, this is about someone trying to make the street a nicer place for everyone by planting flowers and people stealing them and stamping on them,” read a note pinned below the pink Post-It. “How can you try and justify that?”
“Totally agree, this was done with love and a spirit of community for heaven’s sake!” someone added to the end of the yellow piece of paper.
On the other side of the tree, one note served as clarification in this heated war of words. “The council do not pay anything towards planting or watering nor do they provide any maintenance,” read the typed page. “These flowers did not grow wild and were here because they were planted, watered, maintained and replaced by local residents.”
Per the note, the flowers were, in fact, part of a community project run by volunteers in the neighbourhood.
The note, which also gave instructions on how to get involved in the Father Nature community project, also called out two notes for being “not helpful.”
The author of the green ink note — whose message was identified as “not helpful” — responded to the clarification.
“Helpful to know that the flowers were part of a community project. However, if that is the case it was very misleading to refer to them as ‘my’ flowers,” read the note. “What a shame that you have taken it upon yourself to dig up the community flowers.”
It did not end there, reader.
One final note — a yellow Post-It — was posted.
“Love, you’ve got plenty of spare time on your hands. Why don’t you plant some flowers? ‘Mine’ are going elsewhere.”
Meanwhile, on Twitter people were taking sides.
I’m fully in team post-it note and absolutely abhor green pen person.
— esini_123 (@esini_123) May 26, 2019
I like it when someone thinks they have won an argument by simply saying the word “gentrification”
— Richard Gorelick (@gorelickingood) May 27, 2019
Yellow note wins
— Lisä (@Montemoomoo) May 26, 2019
Regardless on which side you’re taking, one thing is clear as day: this entire exchange is the most British thing you’ll ever see.