April 4: new bedfellows

My neighbour Tom, a congenial, intelligent and civilized man, took to talking very loudly in his kitchen from 8 in the evening to 2 in the morning. He also produced this schoolboy giggle. We go to bed early. It was infuriating. Tom’s kitchen shares a wall with our corridor and bedroom, so it was particularly irksome. Tom has recently started dating a new woman. I had never noticed that ridiculous teenage giggle in him, but, I thought, maybe it had been there all along. Love, we said and shook our heads distastefully. Well, it may be love, but that’s no excuse to inflict it on others. And his girlfriend must have Bob Monkhouses’s joke book to hand to elicit the medley of schoolboy snickerings that flow through into our bedroom a-nights. I raised the issue with Tom. He seemed bemused. He was an early sleeper himself mostly, he said. Don’t think so, I thought. The next night it started again. By eleven o’clock I was knocking on the party-wall. He still didn’t heed. I knocked again, louder this time. Stil nothing. Well, this is willfull insolence. I got up, pulled my pants on, went outside. This is one in the morning. In his kitchen all is dark. He is talking at the top of his voice in the dark! I hammer on the door. Tom arrives  from behind the front door stage right. The kitchen is stage left. It isn’t Tom. The yapping is still going on. It’s my upstairs neighbour. I go up and knock on his door. The second I do it the giggles and the chat stop, though he doesn’t open the door. This story will run all coronavirus season, as will many other stories of neighbourly dialogue. Sorry Tom. Here is some mixed fruit to make amends.


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