I blew out the candles on my cake and the room erupted into cheers.
"Happy birthday, darling!" my hubby Anton, 73, beamed, handing me a glass of bubbles.
It was my 60th birthday, and 20 of our friends, our three kids and eight grand kids were all packed into our lounge room to help me celebrate.
Around 5pm, the last of our guests left and I slumped on the couch, exhausted.
Then I heard the doorbell.
It was one of the neighbours alerting us to a note that had been left on our car.
"It says if we ever park on the shared lawn again, our car will be damaged!" Anton said.
I had no idea who'd left the note, but I was shocked.
We'd lived in this community for 34 years and had never had any parking issues before.
"It's shared land," I said. "Everyone parks there!"
Anton thought the note had come from a woman called Sharon who lived opposite.
We'd never really spoken to her much – she kept to herself.
"It was probably a misunderstanding," Anton reasoned. "I'll write to her."
When she didn't reply, we forgot all about it.
Life went on.
We were retired so enjoyed spending time with our grandchildren and going on holidays.
Then, one day Anton came home fuming.
"She's fenced off the communal lawn!" he cried. "Her two pigs are grazing there!"
Lots of other nearby residents were annoyed, too.
Anton wrote to Sharon asking her to move the fence but she claimed it had been there before she moved in.
There were three long years of back and forth and legal wrangles before she agreed to move the fence.
After that, things between us got worse.
Anton came home one day shaken up from his bike ride.
He'd crossed paths with Sharon, who had called him a "fat slob", when he'd got off his bike to walk.
Still, we brushed it off and went on holidays for some winter sunshine.
While we were away, I found a lump in my left breast.
Scared, we flew straight home where my doctor referred me for a scan.
I needed a lumpectomy and then radiotherapy.
But my recovery wasn't helped by an escalation of hostilities with Sharon.
While I was in hospital, she'd told the police that Anton had tried to run her over and hit her with a piece of wood.
He was interviewed under caution, but thankfully, no charges were brought.
By Christmas I was feeling healthy, and well enough to celebrate with our family.
The festive season was lovely. Then, on New Year's Day, there was a knock at the door.
I heard Anton answer it and, as I came downstairs, I saw police officers had cuffed him.
"What's going on?" I cried.
"I've been arrested for having sex with pigs," Anton said, shocked.
I almost laughed. But they were serious.
"It's all lies!" I tried to tell the police.
But by now, they were searching our house.
They took Anton's jacket and trousers as well as some guns he had a license for, ammunition, computers, and cash we had ready for a holiday.
It was humiliating.
As Anton was led away, I broke down in tears.
He was questioned at the police station for almost six hours and even had his private parts swabbed by a nurse and pubic hairs taken to test.
"Sharon's accused me of having sex with her pigs after luring them with doughnuts," he said when he returned home, exhausted.
I listened in disbelief as he explained that she claimed to have caught him at 3am with his pants down in the pig pen!
It was beyond ludicrous.
Anton was out on bail so we tried to keep his arrest quiet, but the neighbours' tongues were wagging.
"Why were the police at your house?" one asked.
"A false allegation was made," was all I would say.
But later, Sharon started spreading her lies.
She told one neighbour she'd caught Anton doing "unspeakable things" to her pigs, and that everyone should keep an eye on their pets and children with him around.
Anton was incapable of such a disgusting act, but his reputation was in tatters – it was like we were living in some bizarre nightmare.
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