Apart from a few months in 1974, I have never lived in a house, always in flats – from day one. I know how to live in shoe boxes, surrounded by other people.
I’ve had quite a few problems with noisy neighbours in London: one young boy played the drums “on my head” for a year; a couple of Italians rebuilt their bathroom, next door to me, from 8pm to 11pm for a whole month; a restaurant chef had parties and machine-washed her dirty working clothes in the middle of the night, every night, for six months; when I first moved to my current block of flats, I found myself confronted with two brothers from hell, whose favourite pastimes were watching A Clockwork Orange with the sound on full and making animal noises (it got so bad I had to sell that particular flat and move to another one in the building).
I am very quiet: I never listen to loud music and I watch TV with earphones. In the middle of the night, when all is still, any TV sound – however low – can be heard through our paper-thin walls. Yet, lots of people who live in my building never give that fact a thought. They also talk very loudly on the telephone, on the walkways. (Have you noticed how much noisier the world has become? Before the advent of the mobile phone, a person on their own wouldn’t have made any noise, would they? Now they do and they add to the ambient cacophony.)
Today I saw someone on the 4th-floor walkway throw the dregs of the coffee he’d been drinking over the railing, without even looking down to see if there was someone in the communal garden. A lot of prospective tenants lie to landlords when asked whether they smoke and later have to resort to smoking on the walkways: their cigarette butts usually end up in the garden too.
I always wonder where those kinds of people have been brought up. The word pigsty comes to mind.
What about that couple who’ve been throwing their baby’s dirty nappies over their balcony? That’s been happening in a council block somewhere else in London – unbelievable, isn’t it? Or is it?
My upstairs neighbour left about ten days ago and the owner has been redecorating the flat. Someone new is bound to move in soon. I’m dreading it.
Tonight I’m slapping all bad neighbours, all those who only care about themselves and show no regard for the people who live next door to them. Slap!