I think literally the only action I’ve ever taken against a noisy neighbour was to gatecrash the party and drunkenly belittle their musical taste. It was a terrible party, and I’d already had a neighbour from across the gardens come to my house to complain about the noise. I redirected them next door and promised them I’d shout over the garden fence. Later that night I decided it was time for bed and impossible to sleep, so knocked on the door and joined in. A lengthy debate about the ‘quality’ of Enter Shikari’s music ensued, before they put on Kate Bush and I had to leave.
I was drunk enough to get to sleep by then.
I retold this story at another party, with full emphasis on how much I hated Enter Shikari. It turned out that I was talking to the bass player from Enter Shikari. He took it quite well.
Anyway, the point is, that I’m more likely to make noise than to have problems with noise. If it’s a party of some sort, I think of it as fair game, put some ear plugs in and turn over. If it’s sex, I turn my music up. If it’s anything else, I just try to ignore it.
There’s a certain immunity from noise that comes from massive insomnia. I find it hard enough to sleep that I’m almost happy to have something to listen to as I shuffle the blankets around me.
I once heard some neighbours having incredibly noisy sex, with almost cartoonishly smooth curve of rhythm to screaming. Once it was over I turned over, and within five minutes, I could hear a cat, emulating, almost precisely (but more cattily) the same chorus of sounds.
I think the cat was taking the piss. It was hilarious.
If I lived next to me, it’d probably be fine. I’m noisy as hell in the day, but have a set of rules on slowly increasing the volume in the morning, and then cranking down to very quiet after midnight. Also, I’d probably like the music.
The slow increase in the morning is the best bit though. I like how a favourite song will goad me into bumping up a notch. Several years ago, living with a beloved friend, both with little structure, most mornings would start with me slowly increasing the volume, until he was woken up by something he liked. At that point, he’d stumble into my room, wrapped in duvet, and lie at the foot of the bed dozing for half an hour, before actually waking up.
It was pretty cute.
If I had real problem neighbours, I’d go talk to them. After fantasising about being brutally angry, I’d be quite polite about it. Try and negotiate it. But it would never be too big an issue.
I couldn’t even blame them for my lack of sleep. There’s enough trouble in my brain already. It doesn’t take fireworks or screaming to cause trouble.
Not ideal though.
Illustration by Rosie