Sunday, September 4, 2011

The Neighbours Everybody Needs

I got home yesterday to find the people with the house opposite my room were having a party. Not just any party - this was the sort of party where they made their own music; loudly. Music that, had I not seen a guitar, was not necessarily distinguishable as music. This was the kind of singing and strumming that you would expect if someone grabbed any member of Girls Aloud, put a gun to their head and said "PLAY ME MR TAMBOURINE MAN NOW BITCH OR YOU WILL DIE".

I imagine the individuals at this gathering had imbibed a fair amount of alcohol and then decided to express their pleasure via the magic of noise. It was guttural, it was pure, it was painful. Had I not opened the blinds I'd have been fairly convinced that I was listening to the back catalogue of Israel's entries to the Eurovision song contest. Obviously I'm a big Eurovision fan and so this wasn't a problem based on any kind of moral or taste factors - it was just an issue of it being supremely late, me wanting to watch West Wing in peace after an amazing day (Twickenham double header followed by one of the best comedy line ups I could have dreamed).

Once, when I was in Bradford, a particularly forthright taxi driver told me that he would never even consider moving to London because it was a horrible place. I hesitated to ask him to take a quick peek out the window and explain why he had settled here instead. He said to me, "I bet you don't even know your neighbours" and I thought - "Of course I don't! I only know my house mates because we share a kettle." I didn't think this was particularly weird. I lived in a tiny village in Somerset for the first 18 years of my life and I didn't know most of my neighbours then either... am I a deeply unsociable person or is this just standard practise for the modern world?

It would worry me that if I sought out these people and attempted friendship based purely on geography, it would be blindingly obvious that we hadn't hit it off when we suddenly stopped talking after the initial chit chat. Surely you can only begin to become friends with the people around you if you naturally find some reason to interact?

Isn't this why the good lord invented postmen with their little red slips that tell you number 82 have your parcel? My new winter coat last year is the only reason I have ever spoken to any of the people who live in my street. Surely even in Bradford people don't just bake up enough cookies for everyone and then hope that only the good folks open their front door to your welcoming knock?

Should I have grabbed a few cans and a grass skirt last night and hopped over the fence to play strumalong, instead of lying in my bed scowling and wishing Sam Seaborn hadn't departed so early? Perhaps I would have done if I lived in Bradford... but had I been murdered last night, I really can't see the police thinking "Poor girl, just trying to help out with the Big Society and she was hacked to death by an ex-Israeli popstrel with a badly tuned guitar". They would have thought - "Why on earth, in this day, age and post code would you a) leave your house after dark, and b) willingly go into a house that is emitting torture noises?"

It's not that it wouldn't be nice to meet all your neighbours; after all, how else do you get ideas for sitcoms and ways to start affairs, I just don't think it's a realistic aim when, for financial reasons, you're living on the sort of road Sesame Street warned would happen if you didn't listen in school. Perhaps at my next residence I will aim to be the hostess with the mostess and have people dropping by for high tea all the time... but after last night I think it might be purely recorded music.

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