Leaving Dovecot Towers will not break my heart. I didn’t want to live here, but at the time, I needed to find somewhere fast. Perhaps as a consequence, it’s never felt like home, and now something is making me wonder what will happen if I stay much longer. It’s not the murder. (FYI: the caretaker is playing it down, but confirmed that a passing resident noticed a strange smell, and pushed the door open. He admitted that the rumoured blood splatters were real enough, smeared on the wall of a deserted flat, while another resident mentioned East European gangs and torture.)
I have a new neighbour. I often have new neighbours, as nobody ever stays for long (except for me.) This one moved in a fortnight ago and he’s noisy. Dovecot Towers is designed in such a way as to heighten inter-neighbour annoyance. On sultry summer nights, when doors must remain open so we don’t suffocate, he stands on his balcony and shouts into the phone for hours.
Maybe it would be better if I could speak Urdu, as I can’t understand what he’s saying (maybe that’s why this is so annoying: a tantalising glimpse into an indecipherable world). Last Saturday was his birthday, and his sisters visited; they cooked for him, playing loud music and then shouting over and above said loud music. I ignored them for as long I could, then asked them to turn it down as I was working and couldn’t hear myself think, enduring his choice of blaring, blasted dubstep drowning out my own choice of music.
At night, his friends came round for a drink. They lingered on the balcony in the warm breeze, discussing the morality of alcohol and Islam, smoking weed, their shouting and laughter growing increasingly rowdy - nothing offensive (well apart from the heroic Olympic Long Distance Gobbing onto the pavement.) By one am, I cracked and asked them to keep it down. They were polite and apologetic. I felt really awful.
At 3am, I was shrieking again for them to shut up, as I had work to do the next day. Again they were respectful and this time moved inside, where they must have been sweltering. I hate to be a screeching neighbour. I know it won’t happen every day. I shouldn’t be able to hear him; bad design is responsible for this conflict, not my intolerance or even his volume.
If I stay, nothing will ever change. My Dovecot life is stuck on a loop like Groundhog Day. Every month is a repeat of the last: rowdy residents, subdued, until the next lot invade; the front door broken and never mended, post room robbed, again, and again or parties which stop for a while and then recommence, the monotony of my ivory walls, the fact that some genius thought it acceptable to place a washing machine in the lounge. If I stay, I will see all of this, cope with all this, and confront the effects of all of this into infinity. And beyond.
(NB: as I was writing this in my flat, police pushed a note under my door. While I was actually typing, three neighbouring flats were burgled; thieves entered via the broken, open main door, and drilled through front door locks. I shall keep you posted.)