Sunday, 15 November 2020

Noise - The Next Generation

We haven’t had a problem with neighbour noise for some time now. That’s not to say we haven’t had problems with neighbours. It went unrecorded in my blog, but 2019 was a very difficult year because of building work we were having done, and two of the four flats in our building causing problems with things. It’s a long story I don’t want to go into here, but suffice it to say there remained no love lots between us and one particular flat. Unfortunately that one flat is the one whose floor is attached to our ceiling.

Lockdown has been a challenging time for everyone. And a development that can’t have been easy for them is that they entered lockdown in March with a baby and a two year old. 9 months later they have a one year old and a three year old, and as they have grown, so has the weight and sound, and frequency, of their footsteps.

Since the autumn has come down, and everyone’s been obliged to spend more time indoors, we have developed a big big problem with constant running, skipping, cantering, and what sounds like ball games and the occasional toppling of furniture. It’s only possible to discern, or guess at, the difference between activities because, from where we sit in our lounge, they just come through as thumps.

Each blow resonates as a bass level pounding, which goes right through our lounge as if it were a speaker cabinet, so it can be felt on the floor beneath our feet. The heavier blows rattle our radiators, and the stuff on the shelves, and a worrying set of cracks in the ceiling have grown. Not every blow from every footfall is the loudest, but they come in constant batches. And the cumulative effect is one of never being able to work in silence. A problem particularly for Hev, since the lounge is where she works. And the work she’s trying to do is writing (which, along with the reading that goes with it, really requires silence).

It’s lockdown, so her trips to the library to read or a cafe to write are out of the question. And much as we enjoy our walks, it’s galling to be obliged to take them, in whatever autumn weather, just to be free from the constant bombardment.

I know people have bigger gripes than this, and we are both so so sympathetic to the two parents above who have the headache and responsibility of raising a three year old and a one year old in a flat without a garden. But we really have to come to some arrangement by which we, the downstairs neighbours, don’t have to have them pounding through our heads all day every day - or the tense anticipation of when the noise will resume, if there’s been a break, which is a form of Chinese Water Torture in itself.

We’ve written polite emails. And, dear reader, I fear I have to say there have been raised voices from our flat, exasperated screams, and thumping on the wall. As I type this, on Sunday afternoon, a combination of the above seem to have brought about a truce, however temporary.

An irony of this situation is that, during the first lockdown starting in March, they broke the rules and went to stay with their family, a few times, sometimes for up to a fortnight at a time. We don’t understand why, right now, when they’re causing us so much anguish, they’re breaking the bloody rules again. We didn’t rat on them then, we won’t rat on them now, if they’ll only give us some peace!

We’re keeping a dairy of the noise from above. Here, as a flavour, is a slice from the most recent entry:

4.35 Running, thumping, rattling radiator. 4.37 Rattling radiator from running.

4.38 Running / cantering / distant door slam / running / skipping / big thump

4.39 Running and thumping

4.47 Running / rattling radiator / running 4.48 Cantering / Big running / thumping

 - We turn radio up to send signal

4.50 Running continues. A thump.

4.51 Hev shout “stop thumping on our ceiling”

Running and thumping continues / cantering / radiator rattling

4.53 Hev has a primal scream

Running continues

4.54 Running / heavy running x2 / 

- Hev thumps repeatedly on wall (our kitchen, should carry to them)

Running continues. Thumps / something dropping 

5.03 - We send them an email

Running / skipping continues

5.10 Hev moves to bedroom to escape noise

Ironically noise stops and has remained quiet till now, 5.38

The quest for peace continues.

Monday morning (the next day). We get an email that reads 

"Sorry Kev

There’s not much I can do x is learning to walk and they are 3 and 1 so they are going to play. I can’t stop them from having fun. What do you expect me to do?"
Hev has a major crying and screaming fit, the worst I have seen her have ever. She is completely broken by this situation.
I get a ballpark quote on soundproof underlay and suggest it to upstairs in an email.

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