07 April, 2006

Social policy

Despite having endlessly intriguing views, my flat has gained a far less pleasant quality these last few days: noisy neighbours. Yes, that old bugbear once again.

I see now that, despite my somewhat petulant whining, I actually had a pretty good deal in my last place. Although the old woman made a racket, at least it wasn't relentless or all-pervasive or unbecoming. It was simply the non-specific sound of a television turned up particularly loud. I could block it out by going into another room. Better still, I could fight back with my own noise, and with her being partially deaf she was none the wiser.

How times have changed. I'm now at the top rather than the bottom of a small block of apartments, and hence sound comes up from below rather than down from above: something you think would make it slightly more bearable and less oppressive. Well, not if it blasts up at you from seemingly every square inch of floor and with the force of not a TV but a stereo system turned up to its maximum volume. And not if it is all-too distinctive and specific and unbecoming.

I can't for the life of me think what kind of normal, sociable person would carry on in such a way. Surely they must be aware of the noise they are making, and how it will be resonanting far beyond their own four walls? More distressing is the kind of music that they are choosing to broadcast at such an earsplitting level: a curious mix of AOR and, for want of a better term, bhangra beat. Of the former, they appear particularly keen on - erk - Chris DeBurgh. Yup, I've been treated to the man's entire back catalogue these last few days, including his 1988 top 5 smash 'Missing You' twice in a row and, despite it being early April, 'A Spaceman Came Travelling'.

I'm hesitant to go and say anything to them concerning the noise for fear of establishing a precedent and unintentionally causing friction having only been living here a month and a half. If I went and asked them to turn the noise down, what would I do if, the day after, they turned it back up? The whole thing could get very nasty. Typically I'm the one who, aware of being in a fully-lived in block, went to such trouble upon moving in to only listen to music through headphones. Fat lot of good that did me.

I've got to come up with some kind of coping strategy, but at the minute I'm buggered if I know what it is. One of the sore points in moving from Liverpool to London was having to forfeit being able to live in a place surrounded by the sound of birds and wildlife and weather and, well, natural unfettered silence. Now it seems they've all been replaced with the beat of a hundred middle-of-the-road pop classics.

I've lived in this city six weeks and I'm already itching to get out.


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