What I Hated the Least Today 16/365: Tenement

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I rent a flat in a new building at the edge of a social housing scheme. I enjoy my view of the tenements more than I probably should, but I like to keep in touch with fellow people’s realities. My terrace is the perfect vantage point for conducting first-hand social observation.

It was Friday yesterday, which is the day when it gets wild at the estate. I went to bed late, and at around three am, I observed a group of three hooded persons loitering at the pavement. In this cold. I was wondering whether they were loitering with intent. Then one of the hoodies detached himself from the group and proceeded to relieve himself against the tenement wall. He must have had a momentary identity crisis, believing himself to be a dog. Also, this very much explains the crumbling base of the house.

My building is normally very quiet, as it was probably constructed of actual bricks rather than prefabricated cardboard-style panels. Later in the night though, when I was trying and failing to fall asleep, I heard very curious sounds coming from the flat below mine. The flat is inhabited by a couple with children of any number. The man has drinking problems, or else there are other reasons that he can be seen stumbling around, occasionally trying to break in my flat when he confuses the floor.

What I heard from the flat was a peculiar mixture of howling and vomiting-like sounds, then sounds of heavy feet running, door banging and lift beeping. I had a hard time not to try to visualise what the matter was down there. I imagine the man had some milk in the pub which didn’t agree with him. Or he was having an epileptic seizure. Or maybe I was sleeping already and just dreaming it all.

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14 comments on “What I Hated the Least Today 16/365: Tenement”

  1. Oh what joy! Been there! In my first apartment building, long time ago, the guy upstairs was a drug addtict + he had mental health issues. Many mornings I had to wait and look in the peep whole until he’d gone away … he was obviously seeing things out in the stair-well, or playing air guitar … I don’t know. He died eventually.

    Friday nights are always good for these types of events … especially if the Friday coincides with the date they get paid.

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    1. That sounds scary! Fortunately, I never had dangerous neighbours (well, once there was some gang running up and down the stairs and banging the doors with a baseball bat, but whatever), my neighbours are mostly amusing. Especially on Friday payday.

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  2. I don’t envy you living among so many people with too thin walls and floors. As much as I love Edinburgh tenements, I tired of living in them after five years. In our last flat, we had downstairs neighbours whose noisy sex would wake me in the middle of the night. I recorded the sound a few times and popped the resulting cassette anonymously into their mailbox. It helped them reduce their volume but that was the final nail in the coffin. I’ve since lived in terraced houses with thin adjoining walls but at least I reduced the number of adjacent neighbours to two groups instead of four.

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    1. So you made a sex tape?! Funny 😀 I had, for a short time, neighbours who were sort of considerate when having loud sex – they’d always play loud music to cover the noise. I genuinely enjoy living in a block of flats, I don’t mind the sounds of people – at least I know I’m not alone in the world.

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      1. I think had it been noise that gradually built to a crescendo then that would have been fine. However, it was sudden piercing screams that made me wake suddenly and jump out of my skin. It was reminiscent of the sound foxes make actually. Anyway, now I’m glad I don’t live in a flat because my kids are so noisy that I would drive my neighbours spare.

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          1. If you had ever heard a fox yell, you would know about it. It’s a very unpleasant sound. It’s the sound I imagined people would make as their skin was peeled off.

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