At 22:30 this evening I decided that since it was Friday, the end of the working week had come. This entitled me to do what I had been itching to do all week: move the furniture around in my office in the hope that a change of view will lead to greater concentration and efficiency. The job took about 45 minutes.
I should mention two things to put you in the picture:
- When in bed, our heads are right up against the wall shared with our neighbour’s kitchen.
- My office shares a wall with our neighbour’s bedroom (headboard of bed against the wall).
Last Sunday night she (our neighbour) decided to use her electric mixer at 00:30 to make an instant pudding. I had set my alarm to wake me up at 05:00. The mixer is an unusual occurrence, I have to concede.
What is not unusual – and I am not making this up – is her habit acquired about four months ago of sweeping and mopping her verandah, located right outside our bedroom window. For some reason, this requires the throwing of two buckets of water on to the pavement for it to flow down the road. Completion of this particular household chore normally occurs anywhere between 00:30 and 02:00, but most often I wait to hear the double splash of water at about 01:30. Needless to say, this activity has wrecked my sleep pattern.
She (the neighbour) is a mother of a four-year-old, who has recently started nursery school. This, I think, is a huge relief to both the child and I, because neither of us have to put up with her mother’s sudden, intermittent screaming for the better part of the day. Until she started nursery school, it would seem that the child’s bedtime was most often at least an hour later than mine. Sigh.
Our neighbour is the housewife in a two-roomed apartment. Her husband does not do shift-work; he has a regular day-job just down the road. He arrives home to eat onions every lunchtime – and, I suspect, a bit of goat meat which has been dutifully banged against the wall about an hour before. That is what it sounds like, anyway.
When not screaming, singing loudly off-key, or nagging her mostly silent husband into an early grave, our neighbour is a quite a pleasant person really. I know this from the occasional times we have actually helped each other, and from the inane conversations in which she engages me every single time I return home after some chore or other in the village. She never misses the opportunity, although I cannot think why. All we have in common is a wall.
We have had the odd altercation, mostly because I have had to complain about the prolonged periods of noise emanating from her busty lungs. Three times this year, I think. Actually, our neighbour is extremely fortunate.
She is fortunate that I am not fluent enough in Portuguese to give her the sharp end of my tongue. I am fortunate for the same reason. Imagine what dreadful comments I may have uttered were I able to deliver these in my mother tongue!
I am no angel. Depending on the phases of the moon, I am sometimes in moments of extreme stress given to loud outbursts within my own domestic arrangement, normally lasting no more than five or ten minutes. Faced with the formidable competition from next door, however, these outbursts seem to have been whittled down to infrequent grumblings which barely rise above the decibel level of the average bout of flatulence.
So, tonight, when after about twenty-five minutes of shifting and scraping furniture about my office, I hear someone banging a fist repeatedly against our shared wall in protest, I call out to my partner in the lounge, “Someone must be having an early night for a change. They are objecting to the noise. Do I even given a toss?”
Voice from lounge says, “No”.