Other people's noise is a fact of metropolitan life, and I'm the first to admit I'm oversensitive to it. With neighbours above, below and on either side, I sometimes yearn for the detached tranquillity of my suburban childhood. But if you want to live in London, you have to get used to the fact that millions of other people do so too, and few of them are Trappist monks.
This rude awakening, however, went far beyond my own personal noise neurosis. There are 14 houses in my partner's terrace, each containing three flats. If there are an average of two people in each flat, then more than 80 people were blasted awake. If every stretch of road were equally populated, this urban monster would have woken up around 1,400 people for every mile of the way home.
Most bass addicts prefer to travel in waking hours, blasting out their thumping message and making the Victorian house I live in shake to the beat. Of course, these could be kindly people, so enamoured of their bass knobs that they want everyone else to share the pleasure, but I think not. My audio favourites inhabit the quieter corners of Radio 4, but you don't catch me zooming round south London making masonry rumble with the voice of Sue MacGregor.
No, people who like to bring the world to a halt with the cacophony of their passage are saying "mine is bigger than yours" - and they don't mean their speaker systems. These overgrown boys (for this is a male club) are effectively fastening their genitals to the outside of their cars. If only they really would - at least we could give them a good kick.
Since that's just wishful thinking, I'm rather hoping that the nice Mr Blair will extend his manifesto crackdown on nasty neighbours to noise polluters. Tough on decibels, tough on the causes of decibels. Then maybe I could have the occasional Sunday afternoon nap.
A FRUSTRATED SLEEPERReuse content