Sunday, 13 September 2009

Fairy Elephants

My previous neighbours were a quiet couple and before they had a baby it was hard to tell whether or not they were home. Once the little girl arrived, the sound of wailing often drifted through the walls from various directions depending on which room she was in. Like all Diva's-In-The-Making, she practiced her plaintive cries at full volume throughout the day and night.

It didn't bother me in the slightest. Her parents often used to apologise profusely for the noise that she made, but since my nephews were born I developed the ability to allow the sound of a baby's cry to pass straight through me without so much as a nudge on my flinch-ometer. I'm not sure how that happened.

Then the couple next door moved out and for several months the house was empty. During that time I grew quite used to having no neighbours - the main benefit of which was a total lack of concern for the noise I wished to create at any time of the day or night. I no longer grabbed the TV remote every time the adverts blasted out their message at twice the normal volume of the program I was watching. If I wanted to dance like a mad thing at one in the morning, I did. And my alarm clock was set to a blaring volume that I thought I couldn't possibly sleep through (but bizarrely still do).

The house then went up for sale a second time and once again I waited for the new arrivals, who didn't arrive. Several weeks and a guilt-inducing hedge trim later, a 'To Let' sign was put up in the garden and I prepared myself for the arrival of a removal van, planning to leap in to the front garden with a freshly brewed pot of tea and some nice biscuits to welcome my new neighbours.

And now mysteriously the house is occupied - but I'm not really sure who by, how or when. There was no removal van (which is just as well because I ate the biscuits). For a good week or so after hearing the first signs of life there was no furniture either. In fact, the only time I ever hear them is at weekends.

Last weekend there was a very loud baby constantly crying. This weekend there are signs of life but no baby (where did that baby go?) I occasionally hear the raised voices of the parents when I am in the shower (the bathroom wall seems to be the thinnest) although I can never quite hear what they are saying, and sometimes I hear the back door being locked or unlocked as they surreptitiously enter or leave.

Even then I might consider myself to be imagining their existence, were it not for the sound of their children running up and down the stairs from dawn until dusk. I say children, because I assume that a single child would have little reason to hurtle from floor to floor every hour of the day seemingly dragging a sack of bricks behind them.

So now "The Dog Whisperer" sounds like: You need to develop a calm, assertive *giggle-giggle*thump-thump-thump-thump *giggle* with defined rules, boundaries and thump-thump-clunk-thump I rehabilitate dogs, I train thump-thump-THUMP-CLUNK-THUMP.

Supernanny sounds remarkably similar.

Last night I caught myself looking at the walls as if in disgust. How intolerable.

And then a distant memory of my mum screaming "FOR GOODNESS SAKES! YOU SOUND LIKE A BUNCH OF FAIRY ELEPHANTS JUMPING AROUND UP THERE!!!" popped in to my head.

Oh, so that's who has moved in next door. Now all I have to do is re-adjust my flinch-ometer. At weekends.


  1. Oooh....I think I have fairy elephants downstairs.

  2. I love the concept of "fairy elephants", I've never heard the expression before. Perhaps I am blessed by being able to turn my implant off each night and escape all external stimulus.