When I lived in East London my neighbour had a drain that gurgled loudly every time they flushed the toilet. It sounded like an alien creature choking on its prey. It became my ungodly morning alarm clock.
I also lived behind a bread factory and every time there was a flour delivery the drivers would bang the containers to get the flour out. Why? Because Britain needs toast, people.
After a year of this, I couldn’t take it anymore so went online to find out who I could complain to. I shit you not, the only contact name I could find was a 'Dr Din'.
Eventually I found an actual manager (not a Marvel baddie), explained what was happening after hours and after several phone calls, emails, meetings and a totally pointless but enjoyable tour of the bakery (it’s really interesting. You should go), the noise stopped.
Though the gurgling drain monster wasn’t vanquished at least Premier Foods midnight performance of Stomp was over.
Fast forward two years and I'm lying awake listening to my neighbour coughing up what sounds like every organ in their body. Starting around 5am, their phlegmy dawn chorus continued all day, echoing off the tightly-packed apartment buildings surrounding us. The only relief was joking about it on twitter. I even started a hashtag #coughwatch.
Then one day, I thought, oh my god. I’m being an arse hole. What if this person is dying of some terrible disease and here’s me mocking them.
However, my sympathies quickly dissipated when, sat by my window one afternoon, I realised that waft of cigarette smoke I occasionally smelt was coming from Coughatron’s apartment. “F*** them” I thought. “100% f*** them”.
Listening to Marge Simpson’s sister cough up a lung was bad enough but below me, when my downstairs neighbours weren’t having blazing rows, their dogs, which they left unattended for most of the day sounded like they were raping each other.
I had to move and so I found a cute little apartment a few miles away and settled in. At first it seemed perfect. Lots of space, off-street parking, a balcony…. the rumble of the elevator and automatic gate for the garage below my bedroom, the garbage trucks that stopped outside my window six times every Friday and of course, the piece de residence, my upstairs neighbour Danny who made so much noise I suspected he was building a terminator from girders.
When he wasn’t constructing his T1000 he was selling dubious substances out the front of the building where a stream of ne'erdowells would whistling to get his attention or throw coins sometimes missing Danny’s window, hitting mine.
Other times, there'd be a thudding emanating from above me, sometimes in the middle of the night. “Ah the blind man juggling competition must have started”, I'd muse.
I spoke to the building manager, who should be in the Guinness Book of Records for most laidback human. He told me my best bet was calling the police.
oh yes I'd love to see how that goes down. “911 what's your emergency?”
As it turns out, the police are the people to call in such instances. Despite the plethora of Hollywood mansions here, most people in LA live in densely packed accommodation and noise nuisance is one of the things the LAPD regularly deals with.
So, after a year of listening to Danny river dance in concrete clogs, and after one particularly egregiously noisy night where I didn’t sleep a wink, I called the cops. I was really calling them on Coughatron and the Alien drain and all noisy arse holes everywhere.
The police were very helpful and after they left… Danny went into full drilling, thumping and DIY mode. It was like an episode of Pimp My House was being filmed up there. My heart sank as Danny’s thundering fuck you came through loud and clear but then… around 6pm that evening… it stopped.
The banging, the drilling, the stomping…. stopped.
I actually thanked God. I did.
Noisy nieghbours seems like a comical non-problem until you’ve had to deal with them. They caused me many, many sleepless nights, stress and depression because I knew deep down the problem may never go away because they didn't really care or they wouldn't be making the noise in the first place.
That evening, after the police had gone and silence had finally descended, was magical. I don’t know how long it’s going to last but I’m enjoying it while I can.
I’m also desperately searching for a new apartment. One of my criteria is that there’s nothing above me other than a roof and the Californian sunshine.