COMMUNAL living – there are many pros and cons to living so close to your neighbours you can almost hear what they’re watching on TV.
It’s something I had plenty of opportunity to think about this week when, at 2.40am, I lay in bed listening to the beat of my neighbour’s sound system.
A blur of unidentifiable music droned on – Stevie Wonder or Oasis it was not!
Living in a flat – small box on top of small box – and as part of a community poses as many pitfalls as it does positives.
There are 130-odd flats where I live. I’m happy to consider some of my neighbours good friends.
I’ve drunk one too many glasses of wine in their apartments and I’ve celebrated New Year with them.
I’ve got my hands dirty helping to create a community garden and allotment and enjoyed many barbecues with my neighbours, young and old alike.
And it’s confession time – as friends we’ve also played many practical jokes on each other, including the time a friend and I stacked 100-odd Yellow Pages outside another friend’s door.
On another occasion, while goldfish-sitting for a friend on holiday, we re-arranged his apartment.
We signed another two up as a ‘beat combo’ group for the X-Factor. Simon Cowell would have been impressed, I’m sure.
The pranks were harmless and confined to friends in the know who have, in turn, done the same to me. And they’ve all been taken in good humour.
If you know your neighbours you know what they can put up with.
But for some reason – and it could be because it’s summer – the worst seems to come out of some people.
Take, for example, one incident this week.
Another of my chavvy neighbours threw a chicken off their balcony. At first it wasn’t known if it was dead or alive.
It later transpired it was the remains of a cooked chicken – they obviously couldn’t be bothered putting it in the bin.
I’m sure most of us could say there’s someone living among us we’d rather see the back of. Some of my neighbours may even say the same about me.
But the problem of antisocial or irresponsible behaviour is one which impacts on people’s quality of life.
Throughout society there are people who simply don’t think – or care – if their actions adversely impact on others.
Like one or more occupants who moved out recently leaving a sofa bed, fridge (still full) and bags of rubbish on the fire escape. It also left us with a £70 bill for it all to be removed.
I was, however, heartened by a knock at the door one night this week.
It was the neighbour who has caused my sleepless night.
He was apologetic, explained the circumstances and gave me a bottle of wine and box of chocolates in his bid to say sorry.
We sat down for a chat and for five or 10 minutes spoke to each other – something we’d not done before – except maybe the odd ‘hello’ as we passed by in the communal areas.
He left hopefully feeling his apology had gone a long way and me feeling stupid for moaning in the first place.
It shows that maybe by talking to our neighbours about the problems we all face can maybe prevent them happening in the future?
After all, who wants to go to a silent party? Next time just choose better music!
Saying that, not everyone can be reasoned with. I’d still like to throw the chicken culprit off their balcony in a bid to teach them a lesson or two.