Can I borrow a cup of sugar? Or just a bowl of STFU?

Neighbours. Everybody needs good neighbours (according to the critically acclaimed song of the beloved Australian soap). Much like family, you can’t choose your neighbours. Some people are lucky with their wall/ceiling companions, others not so much.
I’ve lived in a variety of different houses/flats. If I’m honest, I’ll admit, some of that time I may well have been that annoying noisy neighbour. Ok, well maybe quite a lot.
We were the ones who had parties and late nights, drinking with friends, dancing and singing in the garden until the early hours. In my younger years, I did a lot of that. The only noise complaint we ever got surprisingly, was when I was still a student and we took it in turns to surf down the stairs on an ironing board. It was terrifying but hilariously funny at the same time. The neighbour next door did not share our amusement. In fact we got a letter from the council saying we were too bloody noisy. We in turn, curbed our drunken shenanigans for a few weeks.
In one particular house, we threw a lot of parties. There was a Mexican themed party, a Tiki-bar Hawaiian party and several other non-themed BBQ’s and drunken after parties at this house. We bought a pool, built an outside bar and drank till the sun came up. There was fancy dress, nudity and general tomfoolery. Our neighbours at the time were so cool, they’d often tell us to turn the music up as they couldn’t hear it properly. They were hardcore rockers back in the day and we got away with far more than we probably deserved.
That was in my twenties. I’ve calmed down a lot since then. I am now in my thirties, I have a mortgage and have downsized from a large multi-occupancy 5 bed house to a one bed flat in a quiet residential area. We are probably the youngest residents in this tiny road and we try and make as minimal noise as possible.
That’s not always possible when you have two dogs, 3 ducks and 5 chickens. You can’t always control the amount of noise they make, but we try our best to be respectful to our neighbours. Living in a flat however is very different to the big Victorian houses we used to rent with friends. We rarely heard our neighbours back then. Probably because we were the ones making the most noise, but even so. The walls in those houses are thicker and it seemed like you’re a lot further away from the person on the other side.
In a flat however, you get to know your neighbours, probably better than you’d like to. Anyone who has ever lived in a flat will appreciate this. We are on the ground floor so have a flat above and a flat beside us. There’s an elderly lady next to us which we don’t hear a peep from, but the flat above is the one in which we share, let’s say, an intimate relationship with.
Any sneezing, coughing or laughing can be heard. Arguments, breakups and make-ups (!) can also be heard. I would almost appreciate a bit of a heads up on that last one, so I can turn the radio and the TV up so I don’t have to hear the acoustics of your preferences. We’ve lived in this flat 4 years and there have been about 5 different occupants since we’ve been here. Most of them were fairly uninteresting and pleasant neighbours to share a building with. A couple of years ago however, we had what I like to refer to as The Jeremy Kyle Show Couple.
Don’t get me wrong, they seemed nice enough, just a bit….loud. I only really met them once, well the female at least. One day whilst I was at home recovering from a knee injury, there was a knock on the door and the female occupant was in her PJ’s having been locked out of the house, in tears because she’d left her newborn baby upstairs. She used my phone to phone someone with a spare key, but in the meantime I hobbled outside on my crutches and used one crutch to break in, by putting it through the catflap and hooking the handle down to open the door. I know, I’m a hero right?! But apart from that day I rarely saw them, but oh did I hear them.
There were arguments. Lots of noisy sex and one incident which left us giggling about for weeks after. It was about 10pm and they were having another ‘making up’ session when there was a very loud banging on their front door. So loud, i thought it could’ve been our door, so i peered out of the curtain and a very cross looking young female was stood at their front door. They made no attempt however to come down and answer it (obviously still busy). Then the angry lady outside made a phone call and we could hear the phone in question ringing upstairs. Again, no attempt was made to answer it. Next, the very suitably cross lady proceeds to bang and kick the door shouting through the letterbox “I know you’re in there! I can hear you having sex!!” Brilliant. Some hushed voices from upstairs and someone comes down to open the front door. Lots of shouting (male and female). Two sets of feet stamp up the stairs to the flat. Lots more shouting, involving 3 people, clearly caught in the middle of a love triangle. Now I know I said we could hear lots, but unfortunately the detail of the conversation at that point, was out of ear shot. The one time you want to hear, you bloody well can’t. Typical. Therefore we inferred the rest of the scenario.
We’ll call the couple that live above us Couple A. Couple A have a child together. They were probably once in a relationship, but potentially have gone their separate ways, although male still wants contact with the child. Couple A are also still having an intimate relationship (why not) but the catch is that male of Couple A is actually in another relationship with someone else. Hence the reason why angry female arrived at the door demanding to know what the hell was going on. Immensely entertaining for us. Not so much for them. Angry female did indeed do enough damage to their front door that he had to replace it. Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned huh?!
So the lesson here, is if you live in a flat, or in a property where the walls are a bit thin, if you’re a little bit noisy, or even if you think you’re not. If you can hear your neighbours, then they can probably (most definitely) hear you. And they probably know a bit more about you than you think they do……So just make sure you make it interesting for them!

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