08 February 2013

Antisocial neighbour

It must be quite a high-ranking nuisance among urban people. An antisocial neighbour! They can make your life very, very uncomfortable and there isn't much you can do against them. And I have had issues with my downstairs neighbour for a while, but things got worse this week.When I moved in in 2009, I noticed the neighbour would often have his music on so loud that my mugs were rattling on my coffee table. I tended not to say anything; I had been used to quite something in Amsterdam. And I quite cherish good relationships with neighbours; I won't act the grumpy neighbour lightly. But if I asked, he would turn the music down. And he even once prevented the theft of my bikes. But he was a weird one; he had blocked out all sunlight from his apartment. He tended to not show any sign of being around for months at a time; not sure if he wasn't there or was just hibernating, or something like that. He tended to smell of alcohol. In the beginning he was very eager to engage socially; I wasn't. I have friends of my own, I am busy (he isn't; he tends to be jobless), he isn't my kind of guy. And at some point he turned. It was around the time Hugh started visiting a lot. I'm not sure if that was a coincidence.

The first time things went wrong was when I bought my new bed. When we started assembling it, we found out that was a very noisy business. It couldn't be done in a quiet way! And well, one needs a bed, so we pushed on. The neighbour came up to complain; I explained what the situation was, and that it would only take a few minutes more. But later that week I received notice from the city council someone had complained about me, regarding noise. What? Rattling-mug-loud-music neighbour complains about one night when I spend less than an hour making necessary noise? That's not very chivalrous. When I phoned the lady from the council she mentioned he had also complained about that I get up early and walk through my house, and that that wakes him up. He had never mentioned that to me. The council lady said she knew how noisy these buildings with wooden floors are, and she also said the sympathy of the authorities lay with those who get up early for work, even if that means they make sounds. Even if that wakes up their unemployed neighbours who could otherwise have a lie-in every day. The whole situation was ludicrous!

I was upset about all this. I had avoided being fussy over his noise because I like having civil relations with my neighbours. But instead of appreciating that, he nailed me for the first sound I made. From now on I would not accept his sounds anymore. The game was on.

And it became a broader game than I thought; some time later I had to check my meter readings. The gas and electricity meters are downstairs, in the hallway. He immediately came storming out of his door, claiming I had cut off his electricity. I didn't see that coming! Baffled I showed him the switches: all on. If his electricity was down it must have had a different cause. He stormed back.

When he later had his music very loud and I knocked on the door, he often wouldn't even answer the door. And this week it was very loud again; after a while I decided to bang on his door, even though I don't like having anything to do with him anymore. He didn't answer, again, so at least that saved me the confrontation. But by the time it was past my bedtime I decided to try again. I made sure I knocked really loudly. So loud that the dog of the other downstairs neighbours started barking, and its owner stuck her head around the door. She said he wouldn't hear me anyway. But the door opened.

I asked if he could turn the music down. He looked at me with contempt and said "no". Just that. So things have deteriorated again. The police doesn't deal with such things, the council only deals with it if it persists for weeks. I think I'll contact his landlord. I have found out who it is. Not sure it will help. I'll be glad to be out of there in a few months' time. And then I can only hope he doesn't do the same thing to the next tenant! And I'll be a bit more careful in picking an apartment in York...

I taped our encounter. Who knows if it comes in handy. I didn't point the camera at him, though; that might be a bit too provocative. I'm only a small girl after all, and he's an alcoholic with little to lose. So the footage isn't of very high quality, but it does illustrate the unpleasantness of the interaction!

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