Sounds Like…

September 16, 2010 at 3:24 am (Uncategorized)

Sometimes high-density living really is the shits. Pun intended, because it’s recently come to my unwilling attention that I can hear my neighbours emptying their bowels and bladders while I am sitting at my desk. The upstairs main tenant has recently changed flatmates, so now instead of a petite girl in the mix, there is a lurching Englishman, which means two men, lots of heavy footfall, and the unpleasant aural trauma of frequent camel-style pissing. And now someone appears to be spending more time at home. Is it a contest? One starts to think it must be: how else to explain the sheer volume – in more ways than one – of such frequent release?

About a week ago, I became trapped in the most ghastly golden shower imaginable, caught with my own pants down at the exact moment someone came into the bathroom directly above and, for all intents and purposes, took a piss on my head. Needless to say I scrambled out of there as fast as I could, shuddering and dry heaving all the way, but I felt mighty unclean afterwards. I would’ve taken a shower, in fact, but I was slightly terrified that this might lead to an inspired duet between the water raining down and a possible shit-storm blowing in from upstairs.  Who knows? Maybe a rattling pipe is their cue to charge in and take another donkey dump, and I don’t want to do anything to encourage them. I just want to block my ears and pretend it isn’t happening. Especially while I am in my office, working at my desk. I mean, that’s just rude.

Then there’s next-door’s nightmare grandchild. She seems a horrid little girl, more so because she’s set among such a lovely family. I can’t for the life of me figure out where or how her foul temperament was spawned – it doesn’t match. This is an exceptionally chilled out and warm-hearted clan. They congregate as a family almost weekly, and those sounds are some of the nicest going around – lots of laughter, happy chatting, singing, and guitar strumming, broken only by the inevitable and relentless high-pitched howling of this one little girl. I’ve been listening to her scream and scream and scream and scream since she was born, and my patience with it is seriously wearing thin. It must be so incredibly wearing living with it; I only have to put up with it while she’s visiting her grandparents (which is often; Grandma is heavily hands-on in the care-giving department), and she really has a way of setting my nerves on edge. I can’t imagine what it’s like for her parents – they must dump her and run every chance they get.

I’ve witnessed these spectacular tantrums up close twice. The first time, she abruptly threw herself backwards just inside the neighbour’s front gate, proceeding to lie right across the path and grass energetically thrashing and screaming for no apparent reason at all, certainly none that anyone present could begin to fathom. Her mother looked down at her and said to the assembled, bemused adults, “I always thought people got the children they deserved, but then, I also thought I was a reasonably good person.” And yesterday I passed Grandma wheeling the little miss and her placid cousin in a stroller along the beachfront. Little Demonica was stretched out rigid, writhing beneath the restraint but otherwise practically standing up, as per usual going right off her head. And I mean clear off her chops – a real fit of fury. Her cousin sat mildly beside her, her grandmother pushed mildly behind her, and all the while Demonica shrieked and thumped and flailed. I shook my head for the hundredth time, marvelling that such a supremely nice family could give rise to such a little shit. I’m going to be pretty interested to see how she turns out, because right now, she’s one of the most unlikable little brats I’ve ever met, and I am sick of the sound of her. I don’t know how they stand it.

Finally, the springtime caterwauling has commenced. The heat howl of one of the neighbourhood cats makes the creature sound like the victim of a terrible crime, currently still gagged but in the process of fleeing her attacker. Perhaps that’s not so far from the truth. All I know is, cats clearly don’t care who hears them, there’s nothing furtive or muffled about what they’re doing after dark – or indeed, in broad daylight, if yesterday’s soundtrack was anything to go by. Yep, judging from the shattering sound of this agonised ecstasy, cats don’t turn out the lights; come spring, our feline friends are transformed into raging, insatiable exhibitionists, doing it in the full glare of the streetlamp like two drunk teenagers desperate to unload the dull burden of their virginity.

What’s that noise, you say? That’s the sound of these close quarters, and though I am a city girl through and through, every so often all I really crave is silence.


  1. Annah said,

    Hilarious! I can feel your pain, but it still made me chuckle away, out loud, as I read. This would make it seem as though I had a sick sense of humour, but I prefer to blame it on your fabulous writing ability. I’m going to be chuckling away to myself at the visuals you have created all day…thanks, I needed that! “Golden shower”..he he. “Demonica”…he he etc!

    • doctordi said,

      Annah, I was thinking about you only yesterday – how is the pregnancy going? I imagine you must be getting pretty uncomfortable, as I am finding even well behind you at 26 weeks that it’s getting pretty squashy in there, and sizable meals the likes of which I am so abundantly used to are really giving me indigestion now. Anyway, I am very happy to think one positive outcome of all this ‘hearing harassment’ is your amusement – that is a pleasing thought!

      • Annah said,

        Pregnancy is going fabulously thanks! The bigger I get, the bigger my smile gets.  I actually adore being pregnant now, and am a bit of a show off when it comes to this gorgeous shaped belly. I am gaga in love with this little girl growing inside me. 

        I have always been a bit of a grazer so haven’t had any issues with chowing down..I eat small and very very very often. The only problem I am facing these days is convincing the over protective public maternity system that my childhood is HISTORY ie like 25 fricken years ago. They are obsessed with talking about it after a questionnaire I unfortunately answered honestly. Apparently they believe it will affect my birth. A very negative approach that I refuse to take on board. I lost my childhood and accept that, but there is no way I’m going to let anyone take away my birthing experience with such negativity. So, blissfully happy, but have to fight off the “experts” at my check ups. 

        Also love my pregnancy timing with summer approaching! Can’t wait to introduce my daughter to  warm sand and sea! 

        Hope you are enjoying these precious last weeks leading up to the arrival of our little ones….no Demonicas for us though please!

      • doctordi said,

        Ah, I am TRYING to master your grazing style… but I’ve never really been a snacker, and I am also finding it hard to switch to smaller, more frequent servings having always been a three-square-meals-a-day type. But something must be done. Otherwise it’s just too uncomfortable afterwards. Unfortunately at the moment I just seem to be eating my three big meals and a few more things in between!!

        You sound so happy, it’s lovely, lovely, lovely to hear. Personally I am really loving all the movement – it’s amazing feeling our little friend pounding the walls in there. And my mood is also great – generally speaking I’m just so much calmer about everything. Oh GAWD, stand back, do-gooders!!! I know the intention is good, but I’m with you one hundred percent. I am so pleased you’re not letting anyone or anything past or present rain on your parade.

        Yes, I am happy about a summer baby myself – bring on those long warm days by the beach! But no December Demonica. No, no. Please no.

  2. Lilian Nattel said,

    Noise blocking headphones? Great to hear all about the progress of your pregnancy in the comments!

    • doctordi said,

      It’s a funny thing, Lilian, and there’s apparently no pleasing me, but I wouldn’t like to actually plug my ears. I’d feel very peculiar cutting off a sense. The sounds of the world – like right now, I can feel and hear someone on a skateboard going by – are part of what anchors me, and I suspect, for all my whining, that I wouldn’t like to find myself adrift. Of course, when I say I crave silence, what I probably mean is I crave SPACE, because life in the country, say, is far from silent. It’s just the quality of the sounds is so wonderfully improved to what’s generally on offer here in the big smoke.

      Oh, it’s progressing all right!

  3. Deb said,

    Oh my God! I had such a belly laugh when I read this piece. Wishing you a lovely silent day….

    • doctordi said,

      The thought of making you laugh makes me smile, Darkling. Thank you – but Demonica’s been at it again, and now one of the Lumbering Giants is fee-fi-fo-ing upstairs… ah, there’s no place like home!

  4. Norwichrocks said,

    Oh dear lord, I know I shouldn’t laugh when its so dreadful to live with the shit-storm and the demonic child and the caterwauling, but you make it sound so funny!

    Unfortunately, all the potential advice that occurs to me inevitably involves some form of escalation (playing Metallica at full volume as soon as any of them start up, ferrinstance) – kathartic in the short term, but likely to make matters worse in the longer term.

  5. davidrochester said,

    Oh dear. This makes me ever so grateful to not have these problems. I do have a neighbor who likes to give Drunken Parties every weekend, but that seems minor compared to this veritable maelstrom you describe.

  6. jactaylor said,

    in my lingo, that’s known as “drilling”. my friend recently interviewed potential flatmates asking if they were “drillers”.

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