Thursday, March 10, 2005

Spain is renowned for being the noisiest country in Europe, if not the world. So it’s good the government has promised to do something about what it admits are abominably high levels of acoustic pollution. But we will see. It must be at least 30 years since it became illegal to tamper with scooter engines to make them even louder but no one does anything about the bloody things. Whatever, with noise in the news, it seems the right time to dedicate a blog to my neighbour, Tony.

I live in a town house, at the end of a row. So I share a wall with one set of neighbours. In this I have not been lucky. The previous husband was a heavy smoker and used to wake me any time between 5.30 and 8.30 with his fearsome morning cough. Actually, it was more like a death rattle at twenty second intervals. I tried every room in the house to get away from it but with no luck.

And now I have Tony, his wife and two young boys. To be fair, Tony is a lovely man and I’m happy to have him as a neighbour. But he does like to talk. If not to someone else then to himself, out loud. Or to the trees and flowers in the garden. Far worse, he has a penchant for shouting for no reason whatsoever. I don’t mean shouting at someone or something. Just shouting for the apparent sake of it. So, for example, when the phone rings Tony screams from wherever he is the house ‘I’ll get it!’. At least five times. And then there is his bawling at the kids, apparently in what is a twisted sense of fun, for there is no aggression about any of it. Needless to say, the two boys are beginning to respond in like manner and I am often treated to a father-son bawlfest that lasts ten minutes or more. Even Spanish visitors find this jaw-dropping.

The good news is that, when I am alone in the house, I can at least drown things with my music. But when my noise-sensitive, author daughter is home, I have to tolerate it as best I can.

The very good news is that Tony works on oil tankers and regularly sails to China for a couple of weeks or so. I guess he has a whale of a time on board ship. But I pity the whales.

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