I’ve lived in my flat for one week short of a year, and in that time I’ve never talked to the man who lives on the top floor, other than to mumble a few pleasantries when we pass on the stairs. Yet from these briefest of brief conversations, I had somehow deduced that he was gay. Gay and Irish, as a matter of fact. Well, he’s still Irish (as far as I know), but he’s patently not gay since his girlfriend recently moved in with him.
So anyway, yes, she’s moved in upstairs. And in the few weeks that she’s been sharing this delightful Victorian conversion with the regulation uneven floorboards, I’ve noticed something. There is now a distinct sense of order to their lives. In fact, I worry for them, because there’s possibly slightly too much order. I try to take as little interest in my neighbours as possible — after all, I am a Londoner, and preserving a keen sense of disinterest in the people who live alongside you is almost part of the job description — but it’s impossible not to notice, for instance, that they always have their washing machine on at the same times. Or, due to the volume of their TV alerting me to the fact, that they always watch the News at Ten on ITV. Or that the same three friends always visit on Saturday afternoons, too.
I don’t want to notice these things — believe me, I don’t — but the way in which a building like this transmits every single noise makes it almost unavoidable. Upstairs is also much more evident than it was before, presumably because up until she moved in he was spending most of his time at her place.
And she does wear very noisy heels. Harsh, but fair.
Needless to say, I wish them every joy in their life together. I just wish they wouldn’t listen to their Seal albums all the time, and I wish they were a little more unpredictable. Running like clockwork is a very unappealing habit to have in such close neighbours; it makes me feel somehow disorganised and lazy all at the same time. See, I’m already succumbing to neighbour-induced paranoia — and I don’t even know them, for heaven’s sake.
Aside: I intended this post to be a deep and meaningful pontification on the lack of community in the city. However, considering that I’m currently stuck in a rut of writing aimless crap, I thought that such profundity might be too much of a challenge for my tired mind. I shall save my philosophising for another day. Bet you can’t wait.