Shit I have put up with over the fence

So all this Backyard Backanalia/podcast/Margaret complaining to the Chief Minister hoo-ha has got me thinking about my life as a musician and dweller in suburbia. While I can see how someone with delicate nerves would be disturbed by events such as having a group of actors shouting over the fence or even a Backyard Back, I would like to suggest that life as a performer can offer its own drawbacks in terms of neighbourly noise.

For instance, if you got home from a filthy, noisily drunken (the audience, not you) gig at 6am (after you’ve packed down and lugged all the heavy gear out of the venue, packed it in a car, cruised around for something approximating a meal, etc, etc) then the last thing you want is for your toss-pot neighbour to be flushing out his freaking motorboat at 9am on a Sunday, precisely onepointfive hours after you managed to get to sleep.

In case you don’t know it sounds like a choir of chainsaws. Every Sunday. Every Sunday all year.

Did I complain to a government official? Did I pin angry notes to his door? Did I even go over to have a cup of coffee and a conversation about our conflict of life-cycles? Course not. What I DID each weekend was punch the pillow, groan (or cry depending on how tired I was), wrap my head in said pillow and howl into the mattress that the owner of the boat was a fucking cunt who should burn in hell, and in this way I would generally manage to pass the time for the half-hour/45 it took for him to stop-start-stop-start-etc-finish. And then I’d go back to sleep.

Yes, perhaps that coffee and conversation would have been beneficial, and then again perhaps it would have started the Great Feud of whatever Crescent. Having grown up in the country (oh, so peaceful) I kind of accepted that suburban dwelling came with other people who had a right to live their lives as I did mine.

And the more I think about it, the more I recall neighbours who I wish had parties 6 times a year instead of their constant annoying and disturbing habits. For example:

Shit I have put up with from my neighbours without complaining:

1: The fat old guy who used a leaf-blower 7am EVERY MORNING, on his driveway which was right below my apartment window. He didn’t know how to use it properly and was out there for a good 20 minutes. He desperately needed the exercise a broom would have provided, which would have been quieter and faster. He was also living in a densely populated area of inner North Sydney, so I’m pretty sure I wasn’t the only one who wanted to strangle him.

2: The neighbours in the apartment next door who blasted Air Supply. This was extreme provocation as the walls were so thin I could hear them receiving text messages on their mobile phones. I countered by singing Fiona Apple and PJ Harvey songs at the top of my lungs. Again, nearly every weekend.

3: The neighbours (several over the years) who don’t walk their dogs which results in the poor beast howling and yelping and whimpering and barking all day. Ditto the neighbours who are constantly drinking and fighting. It’s awful living next to abusive neighbours and the worst thing is not knowing when to call the authorities in. Too early and they both hate you, too late and…well, it’s too late isn’t it?

4: The teenagers next door who would stumble home at all hours during the week and blast out Nirvana. This was actually OK most of the time, but at 2am one morning when I’d worked a double shift and had to get up early the next day, I did wander over in my pyjamas and ask if they’d turn it down, please. They did, for a while. I think they got drunker and forgot about me. Eventually you get so tired you can sleep through anything, you know.

5: Noisy kids. Yes , that’s right, they may be your little angels but to the rest of us they’re a rowdy little bunch of bastards. You don’t hear it, because it’s a survival trait not to hear your own children (or smell their disgusting smells) unless it’s urgent. You always know kids are getting up to no good by the absence of noise. All the rest of the time its “SQUEAL, SCREAM, SQUAWK, WHINE, HOWL, SHOUT” The worst thing about kids is they don’t come with a warning. It could be quiet for days at a time and next thing you know it’s bedlam.

Okay, so none of these examples is a party or a podcast and probably not something that any authority could regulate, but I guarantee any one of these examples is far more disturbing in regularity. And it’s not like anyone’s even going to invite you over to leaf-blow their driveway or play a shrieking game of tag with their kids, or ignore their dog, or beat their spouse, or flush their boat, or share in any meaningful way the experience of making their noise part of your life.

Cos, you know, that’s what noise is – it’s life happening.

One Response to “Shit I have put up with over the fence”

  1. Hurrah!