My neighbour’s a twat. You can pretty much take my word for that.
Think Mark Ronson with the belting tones of Duffy and a smattering of jungle. But not quirky eclectic music way. This is in a really fucking loud way, at a 4:30 in the morning type of way, a booming up through your floor-boards type of way. Played by some idiot neighbour who doesn’t give a shit about your ongoing insomnia caused by his shit taste in music.
Catch my drift now?
I don’t want to look like the Fun Nazi here (I’ll let you know when I’m being the Fun Nazi) and I’m a big fan of the “each to their own” philosophy of life – but what’s happening here is a real Crime Against Music, exactly when I’m desperately trying to sleep off the one too many gins in cans from the night before. And I probably don’t need to tell you how mardy I get when I’ve had no sleep.
It all started one Thursday evening with a bit of ska. There’s a song he plays quite a lot, but I can never quite put my finger on it. I’ve shazam’ed it, hummed it to my friends and tried to Google what I think the lyrics are. Nada. It gets under my skin just as much as the irritating hours of the morning when he decides to turn it up loud.
One night, moments before my egg-timer patience had even let the sand run out, I snapped, got up and did something about it (I say “night” but we’re clearly talking 5:30 in the morning here.) So down I go. Down the stairs with my carefully selected Winnie the Pooh pyjamas, carefully styled crazy bed-hair and the thick glasses I’d only ever normally wear in the event of a house fire. Perhaps not the perfect power-outfit to back me up here.
After the third attempt of knocking, my neighbour’s door is answered. And my heart sinks… great… it’s a sodding party. There are going to be lots of witnesses to my crimes against slumber-time fashion. I say to the two, slightly bewildered looking, women who stand in front of me:
“Can you turn the music down?”
Off their blank looks, I add, “It’s really loud.”
They look at each other, confused. And I’ll admit, it is slightly awkward. They didn’t plan on dealing with this when they had their first vodka and coke tonight. What they wanted to do was go out, get merry, have a laugh. No one wants to be the one that kills the fun – and yet, here I am, asking them to put a massive knife in their helium balloon of hedonism.
Then, as the red mist starts to cloud my vision, I raise my voice and, in a slightly hysterical hormonal wibble, shout:
“It’s really un-fucking-fair!”
Can we blame the delirium caused by lack of sleep here? Well, yes, lets just blame that – for I am far too embarrassed to admit that the imminent onslaught of hysteria, tears and irrationality is actually an innate part of my character.
I can’t quite remember exactly what I said, all I know is that the phrases, “I have to be up early for work tomorrow morning like a normal person”, “The loudness of this shit music is unbearable” and “And nobody listens to Reef anymore!” were thrown. At some point during this little outrage, the rent-payer of the flat came out. Yes, it’s him. He who plays the music so sodding loudly. And he sort of ushers everyone else away, so that when I finally come out of my frenzy, it’s just me and this guy standing there in the hallway outside his flat.
And he’s just a normal looking bloke. I mean, his pupils are really big, but he’s not the maniac I imagined lived underneath me (ahem, that would actually appear to be me.) Calmly, he waits until I’ve finished… and then he does the worst thing ever…
He starts being rational.
Introducing himself, he shakes my hand and apologies for the noise. He gives me a potted history of how he came to live in that flat, how he moved in with his girlfriend… and how she then left him. Which caused him to go off the rails a little bit.
The fucker has made me feel sorry for him.
And I can’t quite believe what I do next. Through the unadulterated glee of being able to paddy around in someone else’s emotional problems for a change, I start sympathising with him. I’m so sorry you’re going through this. Poor bloke. Well, we’ve all been dumped before. Have you tried taking up a hobby, I ask, because that’s a really good way of taking your mind off it. I mean you don’t have to do a ten-week sewing course where you make a really badly put together dress which you insist on wearing for months afterwards as a symbol of your supposed new-found strength and independence… but there might be something which could equally be a source of release. Try drinking camomile tea before bedtime; it’ll help you sleep. Delete her number; that desperate drunk texting is a good look for no one. And you should totally start writing a diary; it’ll help you get all of your feelings out injustice out of your system and will help you work through what is ultimately a very traumatic period of your life.
Before I know it, we’re sat side-by-side on the communal hallway stairs and I’m wiping his tears away with the sleeve of my Winnie the Poor pyjama top – whilst being secretly pleased that he’s going through all of this. We sort of make our peace and we swap phone numbers on the understanding that I’ll text him if ever his heartbreak music gets too loud. I traipse upstairs thinking, “Well… he’s quite a nice bloke.”
That’s where I hoped the story would end. But, of course, he doesn’t stop playing his music loudly. He’s still there during the late nights and early mornings belting out sounds through a very loud speaker. The weird texting system doesn’t really work and he flies back up to prime position on my Shit List again. But at least now I can kind of understand the weird juxtaposition of happy hardcore with Celine Dion’s My Heart Will Go On.
Hell hath no fury like a recently dumped man with a really fucking powerful sound system.