Not in my neighbourhood.

My mother and I discuss the ups and downs of CFS in terms of “pockets” of energy. These pockets are like bubbles that form, rise to the surface, and pop, in varying degrees of size, speed and urgency. Sometimes the bubble will only be enough for me to take a bath and brush my teeth. Sometimes it will big enough for me to go see a movie. Sometimes it will last a long time, but will only be very small, just the right size to have a friend over for the weekend. Sometimes it will be big, but short-lived, and I’ll hoover the whole house or go out to a club for the night. Most of the time, the bubbles are small and short, but this weekend, I had one that just kept paying out in wierd ways.

On Saturday, I woke late, got up slowly, and found myself with 6 or so hours to go before I was due at a housewarming party. I frosted my cupcakes (no, that isn’t a euphemism for anything – see the post before the post before this one), took a nap, had a shower, threw on some warpaint and a comfortable outfit, and headed out. It was a nice party, fairly quiet, but warm, friendly and intelligent. Just before midnight the drinking games began, and I headed home. I was exhausted, and glad to be on my way.

As I turned the corner into my street, I heard a jarring noise. A thumping sound, littered with angry voices, and began to wonder if my DIY-crazy neighbours had finally flipped and were tearing down their house or something. As I got closer to my home, I realised it wasn’t them, it was my neighbours on the other side – also known as the rude South African students who’ve been trying to kidnap my cat since they moved in. I can only really describe what they were doing as a ‘party’, but only because I can’t think of a more efficient way to convey what was going on (Mm. Because efficient ways to describe things are really what I’m going for here, aren’t they?).

The music was loud, and of the type that you usually hearing blaring out of the in-car speakers of a souped-up Ford Fiesta, usually with some bling-coated chav waving his head about behind the wheel like he was having an epileptic fit and an orgasm at the same time.

I counted a good 10 or so people outside the house, which by law of averages should mean there were at least another 30 inside, and probably another dozen or so in the back garden. One of them was adding to the ever-growing slew of vomit dribbling down MY garden wall, and another 3 or 4 were contributing similarly repulsive oral expulsions (I refuse to call it ‘conversation’, since it mostly consisted of “innit,” “like,” some grunting, and a veritable buffet of four-letter words). There were beercans in my shrubs, dogends in my hedgerow, and broken glass littering my pathway. I tried not to scream in horror in case any of the attendees decided to take me up on it.

I squeezed past the crowd, only to find a rather inebriated young man standing in front of my door. I looked at him in a pleading manner and shook my keys, hoping he got the idea to move.

“Oh, you live ‘ere?” He says. Nah, I’m inviting you back to mine. C’mon, stud. I just love to wander round this part of town on a Saturday night looking for people to help me research brewer’s droop. “Come to a party!” he adds.

Politely as I can, and without making any physical contact, I wiggle past him and get my key in the door. “NothanksIjustcamefromoneI’mtiredandgoingtobedgoodnight!” I said as quickly as possible, and slammed the door shut as fast as I could without trapping any protruding part of him in it (although trust me when I say, the temptation to do so “by accident” was particularly strong). I lock the door behind me and breathe a sigh of relief… until it dawns on me that it’s louder in here than it is out there. Strike one against living in a mid-terrace. Brilliant.

By now it’s 2am, and this is usually a very quiet residential street, made up of mostly old people, or young families, so I swallow my anti-establishment tendancies and call the police on them. And environmental health. Which was mostly an exercise in futility, as it took them combined over 90 minutes to get anyone to the property, and then they couldn’t do anything, because someone had tipped off the DJ and those lurking outdoors and they’d all scuttled back inside just in time for the police van to show up. Of course, the second they left, the music went back on, the MC started spewing his verbal diarrhea down the mic, and a beercan hit one of my upstairs windows. I gave up on the police, turned all my lights off, and read a book in bed by torchlight, with the radio on my iPod to drown out the noise. By 6am, they’d chilled to a low rumble, and I slept. Badly.

The sheer terror and outrage I felt kept me wired all day Sunday, and as I’m sure you all know, anger and upset really isn’t good for CFS sufferers. Everything hurt, and I just couldn’t relax, no matter what I did or didn’t do. I hate that I’ve become one of those neighbours that I used to laugh at as a teenager. Jeez, lighten up will you? It was only a party, we were just having some fun! Yeah, I’m laughing on this inside. Unfortunately, I’m falling apart on the outside, so while I don’t have a problem with people enjoying themselves and the lives they have every right to enjoy as young, able-bodied people, I could just do without it happening on my doorstep. Literally, on my damn doorstep. At stupid o’ clock in the morning.

Really though, it’s the couple on the other side of them I felt sorry for. They’re in their early 70’s. He has Alzheimer’s, and she’s his full time carer. He also has some serious physical mobility issues. They’re the nicest people in the world (except for my over-the-road neighbour, Denis, but we’ll save that for another day). They don’t deserve to have the sanctity of their home invaded by other people’s noise and disruption. Had it only been me who was suffering, I almost certainly would not have called the police. Because I still, after all these years, don’t believe I deserve to be treated carefully, respectfully, or equally.

Well, there’s a can of worms for you to mull over ’til next time. I’m gonna take my righteous indignation to bed.

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~ by surprisingme on March 30, 2010.

4 Responses to “Not in my neighbourhood.”

  1. Utterly horrific and beautifully described. I used to get this living in my last flat. When the police arrive everything goes quiet until they go away again. Maddening. I think some people see the privelege of having ‘fun’ as a right. I’m sorry you’ve had this experience and I admire your restraint.

  2. Give your Environmental Health Dept a full account of what happened. Copies of correspondence to MP, local councillor. Complain about the slow response time to the police. There is no way you should have to put up with this -least of all as an unwell single woman with a child. A call from you, let alone about a matter that concerns your elderly neighbours, should have produced a quick response, and the police should be held to account.

  3. I had to contend with this when I moved into a house next door to a death metal band. I was seven months pregnant at the time.

    It’s horrible when you realize that, all coolness aside, it’s really, really not funny to have neighbours who utterly lack any respect for the people around them.

  4. “These pockets are like bubbles that form, rise to the surface, and pop, in varying degrees of size, speed and urgency.”

    I love this analogy! Beautifully said!

    I’m sorry you’ve had idiots to deal with, though. Even if you weren’t ill, it would have been teeth-grindingly difficult. Hoping for fewer idiots in your life!

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