Saturday, 26 May 2007


Once again, I have new neighbours. If the past is any guide, they will range from one extreme to another; either lovely (the minority, sadly) or the truly horrible, by which I mean gangsters, scary drug dealers and thugs. This makes life interesting when you need to borrow – say, an onion.

Bongo man was nice, if a little mad. Perpetually stoned, he would visit with paranoid tales of the spooky creatures staring through his windows. I worried about him. With his equally fish-eyed friends, he formed a band playing trumpet and bongos. Practice went on a bit, and was slightly repetitive. I asked if he could keep the music to – maybe before twelve? He always warned me from that point, so I could play my music loud enough to disguise his efforts. Which made the other neighbours hate me into return. It’s the circle of life.

He was replaced by a runaway from a care home, and life had made her hard. She and her friends played Boombastic by Shaggy for three solid days, loudly, nonstop. Rocky (the gangster neighbour - he’s a nice boy really) said they were ‘skanky hoes’ when they were actually prostitutes. I once read a press expose on ‘Manchester’s seedy underbelly’ where my neighbours were the featured working girls. They used a guard dog to protect them against vicious clients, which howled at the moon, until their pimp ‘taxed’ them for it.

Meeting them once in a shop, the older one once showed me what they were having for tea (frozen lasagna, since you ask): ‘…at least we’re eating properly’ she reasoned. One night the police raided, and I never saw them again. To my enduring horror, I discovered one was thirteen years old.

I was convinced another neighbour was a serial killer. He refused to answer the door even in emergencies, and left early in the morning with a heavy rucksack, which was empty when he returned in the evening. The greasy smell of frying pork oozed under his door. He was actually a shy trainspotter, with a taste for sausages, who dealt in second hand books.

But I finally heard my new neighbours last night, and they are a bit of a nightmare. I can hear someone mixing horrible house ‘tunage’ (yes, they have decks in their lounge) while another plays luurrrve music. This is preferable to the as yet unknown neighbour, who battered his partner, putting her in hospital. I called the police, and shall willingly go to court, but then I’ll have to move out, because he’ll know who I am by then won’t he?

It’s disconcerting when you realise your own status as ‘that mad woman next door.’ I moved in to a flat in Manchester, having seen The Fall a few days previously. Exhaustion from carrying crates heavy stuff up two flights of stairs turned to silliness, as my friends and I perfected our best ever Mark E Smith impersonation. Suddenly, the neighbour’s door opened, and out stepped Simon Woollstencroft, then drummer with…The Fall. Wordlessly, he helped me in with my sofa.

Thanks Simon.

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