Many recently completed developments have names like tacky nightclubs. I’ve heard of a Spectrum, a TheEdge, and even a Blue2. Little wonder then that certain occupants can’t tell the difference between party central and their own sweet home.
These days, most residents of Dovecot Towers are students, and they love to play. Classic and now legendary examples of these pranks include the lads who suspended their house-mate’s possessions on bungee wires from the branches of a tall tree. Elsewhere, tricksters planted cress in an absent friend’s carpet. On his return, he was greeted by a lawn in his bedroom. Others shifted the furniture from their house-mates room, and perfectly reconstructed his digs, alfresco. Then there are water fights, streakers, and competitive piles of junk food cartons. Totally hilarious.
Unless like me, you’ve heard all this before. I could live with the occasional frantic party, but am defeated by the assumption that everybody in the building returns at 3am and can rise leisurely on a Sunday and so slamming doors and screaming is of no consequence. And, no, it’s not about being an old fart; many younger residents also have that Victor Meldrew moment, screaming at the ceiling, especially when working split shifts which start at eight am after enduring neighbours who celebrate the simple fact of it being Wednesday by screaming until seven.
Some flats, especially in those found in increasingly rare, remaining pockets of social housing, practice age selection. One block sets a limit of twenty-five. I’m not entirely sure how this works. Are residents booted out if they survive all that debauchery and reach the dreaded age of thirty, or worse have the audacity to cruise on through to forty? And what if you are twenty four when you move in?
Here’s the problem: there is no magical age when consideration and empathy kick in. On reaching their quarter century, citizens don’t automatically abandon improvised, informal home nightclubs for B&Q. On reaching twenty-six, it’s erroneously assumed that yobs change into considerate citizens. This theory was disproved by Thumping Techno Boy (formerly of this parish) who was well into his thirties; age didn’t restrain him from blaring out tunage until my ears bled. I once met an eloquent adversary of pandemonium round here who was just twenty two.
Most tenants in Dovecot Towers are students. They live their days to a different timetable: up late, and sleeping in, but at least we have end of term to look forward to. Even so, every block has at least one incongruously older resident, and some occupants have their kids to stay, even if no children actually live here permanently.
Currently, landlords are desperate to rent their buy-to-let money-pit and students are a boon in that respect, since they pay the rent, and if not use parents as guarantors. It’s just that they bring their lifestyle with them. I’m no fuddy-duddy expecting endless silence and peace to encourage contemplation, but I survived life in a hall of residence, and I don’t want to go back.