Clunk clunk clatter clunk. THUD. Sound familiar? It will do if you live beneath someone who has wooden floorboards. They're so smooth and shiny when they're underfoot, and so easy to clean. Overhead, they're a silence-shredding menace. Tiptoeing mice become clodhopping elephants. Toddlers taking their first small steps sound as though they're taking giant leaps from a great height. Yes, as you can tell, I live underneath some of the damn things. I also have them on my floors, but I'm absolved from noise-related guilt because I live in a basement and the only thing underneath me are earless earthworms.
So I've found myself commiserating with the London couple who have taken the owner of the £5m flat above their apartment to the Appeal Court because of the racket that reverberates from upstairs whenever anyone walks around because of the recently installed wooden floors. They want the flat's leaseholders to carpet the offending floors to deaden the din.
Churls might say that because this audio drama is playing out across the stage of one of the most expensive bits of London (Chelsea), the appellants could just stuff some fivers in their ears and get on with it. But neighbour noise grinds you down wherever you live, and feeling as through (thud thud CLUNK) you're being trampled on every day makes a home feel less like a haven and more like an underpass. And since wooden floors (and their evil doppelganger, laminate flooring) have smothered our love of carpet with their high-shine charms, their noisy reign continues.
Poor carpet. I've become a bit obsessed with it lately, living as I do in a flat where the only thing that's even slightly carpet-like is the punishingly pumice-like sisal bedroom floor. I've started fantasising about the floors in the house where I grew up, which were wall-to-wall fitted carpets (even in the bathroom, which now strikes even me as a bit much). In a restaurant the other night I suddenly felt a moment of near nirvana in a rather ordinary corridor. I realised my sense of peace came from the inch-thick carpet on which I was treading.
But I've done nothing about my rug lust, despite the fact that at either end of my street there's a Carpet Right store. I joke that it must be a front for something, because no one ever seems to go in or come out. However, looking at the company's most recent profit warning (sales fell by 4.5 per cent in the three months before the end of January), the time for joking is over. Join me. Renounce those noisy boards and embrace the soft, soundless swirl of a shagpile.