In the early hours of this morning, I did something I never thought I'd do. I am usually very mildmannered. But I stormed straight out of my frontdoor into the cold air in my bright pink dressing gown, purple polka dot pyjamas and sheepskin slippers because I was so cross.
I wasn't in the street at 1am on a freezing night to give north west London an impromptu fashion show (pyjamas *are* in though right now, no?), or to nip out on an angry sortie to the offie or whatever nefarious reason you might imagine (steady at the back, there.) No, I was going to ring the bell of my upstairs neighbour to politely ask for the love of GOD and for the hundredth time to STOP THE NOISE AS I'M TRYING TO GET TO SLEEP.
For some baffling reason, my upstairs neighbour and/or her flatmate seem to think it's okay to have a power shower after 11pm. Repeatedly. And after midnight. And usually 1am. And 1.15am. Then 1.20am. And 1.25am. And so on. Sometimes one after the other from 1am to 3am.
And what might sound like reasonable hygiene practice to some is actually a nightmare for me, as the wretched power shower is situated right over where I go to sleep, with no sound insulation, AND the drain is pretty much next to my head. It's like Niagara Falls washing over me every night. Yes, I can wear earplugs, and I do (not that I should have to - they're uncomfortable and not great for someone like me who gets ear infections), but the vibrations still keep me awake.
These repeated power showers at stupid o'chuffingclock have had me screaming 'STOP IT NOW!' at my bathroom ceiling numerous times to avail. I've asked nicely before too, but today, I was so weary and driven insane I had to take action. I'd snapped (clearly - no sentient being needs to see me in nightwear). This problem has been going on for more than two years, but never before have I been so incensed as to leave my lovely flat in jimjams.
So what happened? My upstairs neighbour Pat* answered the door (*to protect the innocent, I'm calling her Pat because that's her name) and she looked very bashful.
"Is everything okay, Jody?"
"No. No it's not Pat, it's the shower again. I'm sorry, but I've pleaded with you before and it's really not acceptable to be having power showers right over my head in the early hours when you know it wakes me up. It's not fair and it's not neighbourly."
"I'm not having a shower though."
"Clearly, because you're stood in front of me, but someone in your flat is."
"Yes, but she like showers."
"Yes, and she keeps doing so in the early hours and I've said before it's really not on. I don't have my telly loud or put on the washing machine or have, I dunno, a rave, after 11pm because I'm nice and I don't want to disturb my neighbours. Come on, you live above me, it's not fair and you know it keeps me up."
"But sometimes I get home late and want to have a shower."
"But you don't work down a coal mine. You're a maths teacher."
I might add that Pat rents out what should be the living room to a tenant which must be pretty rubbish, the pair of them not having any extra space. Maybe as a result, perhaps they don't think or care about the noise they make and how it might affect their neighbours, when they're living in such cramped conditions. Maybe they don't think about the lease of the building that says you can't have exposed floorboards, as this is a 19th Century building with no sound insulation. But no-one takes notice of that sort of thing do they, when they're making their place look nice? So there's just floorboards and flimsy plasterboard between me and my upstairs neighbour so I can hear ever clodhopping footstep.
Maybe Pat and her lodger are cross that they live, cash-strapped, cramped and angry upstairs -although I am cash-strapped, cramped and angry too, but they might not consider that? Perhaps it's a cultural disconnect too. Maybe it's okay elsewhere to be up and noisy after midnight. I'd love to, but I have to get up at 7am.
Me: "Look, I've lived here for 14 years. I have never had a problem with noise from the flat upstairs before. I've really got on with my upstairs neighbours before - we used to go out for drinks and have fun and stuff! But then, I never heard them upstairs, ever. Also, seeing as we're having this conversation, playing the Andrew Lloyd Webber songbook, badly on a keyboard, before 9am on a Sunday, is also not acceptable. Please can you think about the noise you make after 11pm, and before, say, 9am at the weekend?"
So there you have it. I'm not sure if this is just a symptom of inner city life - or maybe it's everywhere in Britain but it seems in my experience, that those living alongside you are increasingly not caring about their neighbours.
All I know is that I dream of living in Switzerland where it is apparently illegal to make loud noise in your home ie operate washing machines, vacuums, power showers, creative pile driving etc after 10pm.
But in the meantime, for godsake, just SHUT THE FUCK UP and let me sleep!