There’s only so long you can go listening to your neighbours humping without feeling a bit…awkward. It starts off well enough – delighted disbelief, a twinge of delicious guilt, a light smattering of applause perhaps – but then you become aware that you’re like a dirty ghost, an invisible advisor on the eiderdown; willing him to stop that fruitless thing he’s doing with his nose and mentally moving the remote control so it doesn’t disappear like last time. You shouldn’t get involved. People don’t like it. Especially if you’ve had to saw a hole in the floor to gee them on. The dust gets everywhere. (Everywhere.)
A mere week ago I naively thought the new couple downstairs might become friends, that we were only one cheery meeting in the porch away from being pals. A couple of chatettes away from exchanging spare keys and confessional tales over some ice-cold beers. That was as I heard them shooping boxes whimsically around the laminate floor. Their newness, the implied optimism of their arrival was charming. “Where shall we put the cutlery? In a drawer in the kitchen? Good idea, babe.” Cute. I pictured newlyweds with flushed cheeks. I wondered if I should bake them welcome cookies and tell them I’ve got their backs if they ever need an emergency Enid Blyton or a decade-old bag of odd socks.
It was only hours later that I thought that I might kill them if they didn’t immediately dismantle their too-immediately mantled surround sound; bang and olufsen their skulls in with my hardest shoe if they didn’t cease their repetitive playing of some moronic computer game (that sounded to me, from my second floor sound-vantage, like zombies racing each other around a bowl of rice crispies.)
Then the next morning they played me The Everly Brothers up through the floor while I had a bath and I thought I might have been a bit rash in visualising their sudden and gruesome deaths; that we might after all through the power of shared musical tastes make some long-lasting bonds.
Then their dog made me drop my eggs with its psychotic snarling from its slit beneath their door as I let myself in after shopping. I dimly remembered some old saying about not being able to make an omelette without first breaking eggs, and – realising it was of little use when the eggs are squelching around a Sainsbury’s bag and not a skillet – abandoned my ‘nevermind’ smile and once more wished them a bit of deathy harm.
Then I heard them talking gently about growing tomatoes through the louvre window while I had a wee and I softened at their humble dreams, at the vulnerability of all humans. I had a five minute Jean de Florette spell of whimsy as they poked around the patio.
Then they banged in some nails while I was trying to write and I hoped their nails would ping back out as they slept and their Jack Vettriano pictures would fall smack on their heads and that the resultant dents in their skulls would spell out words like ‘cock’ and ‘fuckwit forever’.
Then I told myself off for being horrible.
And then they started humping.
Now, as I type, I feel like I’m the ousted member of a dysfunctional 70s three-way – pushed out of the tryst to play the gooseberry in the next room; still tacky from my involvement. I hate the bad flat conversion sound-proofing for making me feel like an aural pervert. I hate the enforced intimacy of neighbours. I hate his morning phlegm-gargling and her loud phone conversations about shit I hate. I hate their door-shutting and ostentatious sneezing. I hate their proximity, their life choices; their proximity to my life choices. I hate their X Box and the fact humans ever evolved the opposable thumbs requisite to play it. I hate the fact that when I stand one day soon on their doorstep, all psyched up to tell them off, that they will probably be perfectly nice and I will probably say nothing.
That I’ll then trudge back upstairs to listen to them bumping around like blindfolded pandas tasked with artlessly saving their species. Like now. Ugh. They sound like the BeeGees playing squash. It’s about as erotic as…the BeeGees playing squash. Which isn’t all that hot when you actually picture it. Especially now that most of the BeeGees are dead.
My initial neighbourly visions of sharing hopes and dreams over beer are dwindling; the likelihood of us ever holidaying in a cottage in Cornwall close to zilch.
They are certainly not about to get any ruddy welcome cookies out of me. What will I eat while earwigging?