Thursday, 15 November 2012
I live in an Edwardian terraced house, built in 1906 during the reign of Edward VII. We moved into the house in 2002 and I watched it pass its 100th birthday.
I love my house.
We have now removed most traces of the previous occupants, an elderly couple who didn’t have too much money to spend to develop the property, choosing instead to (and let’s be kind here), patch the place up.
Mrs PM and I have spent a fortune on it, renovating each room in the house including a fair amount of building work, a new bathroom and a new kitchen.
The previous occupants would not recognise the place now.
We have completely stamped our personas on the house.
It is ours – well, when I say ours, I really mean that it belongs to the cats.
We acquired two of our moggies, Jasper and Poppy, about a month after we moved in and they have been with us ever since. Two other moggies have lived here with us too; poor old Spike – the cat that belonged to a woman two streets away but chose to live with us instead until he finally disappeared again – and now Liquorice, the hellcat who tears off strips of my skin for fun.
We are all one big happy family.
One of the problems of living in a terraced house is that we share walls with our neighbours, and can sometimes hear them. Normally, this isn’t a huge problem, as our neighbours are quiet and friendly.
This hasn’t always been the case though.
When we first moved in, the neighbour on one side decided that she wanted to sell up, leave her job and travel – so she did. She sold the house to a rich man, who bought it for his young son, a student.
At first, everything was fine. The young man was friendly enough and didn’t make much noise. For the purpose of this post I will call him Student.
The house on the other side of Student was owned by a young gay couple, who have since moved out but we are still friends with. They were more Student’s age and often hung around with them. We popped over a few times but I kind of lost interest because I was too old to sit outside laughing with students about young people’s stuff.
I was happy to leave them to have fun.
That is, until the fun started to get annoying.
At first, things were friendly. Student would come round and say “I’m having a party tonight – you are welcome to come round.”
“Thanks for telling us, “ I would say with a smile, but declined to leap into a house full of young people getting drunk.
On the occasions when he warned us, he was good to his word and the frivolities would fade about midnight – at first.
And then he stopped telling us.
And then he decided that the best time for the start of a party was at midnight when he and his mates had returned from the pub after drinking for hours.
And then he started doing that during school nights.
The first time it happened, I was lying in bed at 1am on a Saturday night and all I could hear was
DOOF DOOF DOOF DOOF DOOF DOOF DOOF DOOF DOOF DOOF DOOF DOOF DOOF DOOF DOOF DOOF
with the gentle screaming of pissed people as a background melody to accompany the thumping beats.
The second time it happened, I was very annoyed. To cap it all, somebody knocked on our door.
I was genuinely angry thinking that one of his mates had drunkenly wobbled to our house by mistake. I quickly got dressed and ran downstairs preparing to shout at the idiot who had turned up at the wrong house.
It wasn’t an errant partygoer, it was Luke, one of our gay neighbours.
“I’m going to complain to Student,” he said. “Will you come with me for backup?”
“Damned right I will,” I snarled and the two of us went next door.
The door was answered by a very drunk Student.
“Can you keep it down? It's late and we're all trying to sleep,” said Luke diplomatically. I stood behind him looking as mean as I could.
Student uttered a quick slurred apology and the volume was almost immediately lowered.
The parties continued and no matter how much complaining we did, they kept on happening. One one occasion, I knocked on his door at 3am and was heckled by one of his mates, standing behind Student when he had opened the door, said:
“I don’t like your attitude mate. You could ask nicely.”
“Step out of the house and let’s discuss it,” I snarled with an uncharacteristic rage building inside of me.
Student intervened and turned the volume down while trying to shut up his dumb drunk mate.
I decided to exact revenge. I woke up at 8 am the following day (a Sunday), knowing full well that Student would be sound asleep and nursing a hangover.
I put the speakers of our hi fi against the bedroom wall, knowing that his room was on the other side and subjected him to a full hour of this at high volume:
I didn’t hear a peep out of him; not one complaint.
The last straw, for both of us I think, was when, on a Sunday night at 3am, Mrs PM and Luke went round to complain and the noise was so loud that they couldn’t hear the door being knocked.
Our bedroom and Student's were separated only by a wall and I could hear him in his room blasting his music out at a volume that could probably have been heard in Liverpool, peppered with a few giggles from the people in there with him.
I was enraged because Mrs PM and Luke’s futile attempts to penetrate the vile pounding music had fallen on deaf ears. I ran downstairs to get a broom. One good thing about living in a terraced house with adjacent bedrooms is that the windows are quite close together.
I ran back upstairs, opened my bedroom window and walloped his window with the broom handle as hard as I could. He opened the window and Mrs PM and Luke complained in a more controlled way than I would have done.
When he turned the music down I heard him shout:
“MY BLOODY NEIGHBOURS! ALWAYS PHARKKING COMPLAINING!”
I was just about ready to smash his door down and show him exactly how I really wanted to complain. I didn’t – I was too tired.
His parents sold the house about a month after that event – that was his last party.
On the day Student moved out, I walked past as he was loading up a van with his parents.
“Moving out?” I asked with a smile.
“Yes,” he said. “It’ll be a little more peaceful now, I guess.”
“Yeah,” I agreed.
Our new neighbour is the complete opposite; a lovely lady who is very quiet, so quiet in fact that we can hardly hear her most of the time.
As for Student – I bumped into him about six months after he had moved out, in a bar in Manchester, as I was having a last beer before going home after a concert.
I saw him at the other end of the bar and raised my glass to him with as smile. He raised his back to me, also with a smile, and we left it at that.
I don’t hold it against him now he's gone; after all I was young and stupid once.
Now I’m just stupid.