Are you one of those people who could sleep through an earthquake? Then maybe you’d like to swap addresses with me, because I live in one of the noisiest roads on the planet. It’s not as if I want to live the cloistered existence of a Carmelite nun, but I swear, not a single day passes when I am not pestered on some level by unwanted noise.
For example, this morning I was awoken at 6am by the bin lorry, but not an ordinary bin lorry. No, this one makes a sound that would drown out a Battle of Britain re-enactment. Every week without fail at 6am I can be found with my pillow clasped over my ears trying to block out the sound of the bin men chucking bins and bantering at each other. The rumble and weird scraping of wheelie bins over sharp gravel under your bedroom window at the crack of dawn is a wake-up call I could do without. Matters aren’t helped by the fact that most of my neighbours have gates that make the kind of ominous creaks and squeaks usually only found in old Hammer horror movies.
Unfortunately, I have the aural sensitivity of a fruit bat, especially when I’m trying to get to sleep. A dripping tap may as well be Niagara Falls. As a result I have invested more money in earplugs then the average woman spends on shoes. In fact, I now hoard my collection the way other women guard their jewellery, but I am still searching for the Holy Grail-a pair that blocks out all sound! Part of my problem stems from the fact that I live in a house with sash windows and can’t get planning approval for double glazing. If I went ahead and installed it anyway, I’d probably be imprisoned for this crime against humanity, yet the raucous drunken moron who disturbs my sleep by smashing a vodka bottle and then vomiting on it over my garden fence would probably be awarded some kind of compensation if he managed to scrape a tender hairy knuckle on the same fence!
Just when the bin lorry finally moves on and I’m drifting off again, the bloody roadsweeper machine grinds to a halt outside my front door. And in case you’re wondering where all the rubbish they sweep up goes, allow me to enlighten you. It all ends up under my front gate. Yes, the rest of the road is leaf and paper free but I have a huge pile of rubbish so high that I have to dig my way out from under it.
Now that the Annual Festival of Road-Digging has begun I also have the seemingly unstoppable pleasure of pneumatic drills and tarmacadam machines to contend with. And it’s not like I can breathe a sigh of relief when it’s over because let’s face it – it’s never really over is it? I’m also enjoying the special thrill of scaffolding being erected across the road from me. That skull-splintering clanking sound has resulted in me spending more time on the Dignitas website than I’d care to admit.
Another problem I have is that my telephone number is very similar to that of a local bank. So on special days around 4.30am, my phone will ring continuously because some idiot in a bank in Singapore is mistakenly trying to send me a fax. What hope is there for a banker who can’t even read a telephone number correctly? But how I love the knife-in-the-heart terror that a phone ringing at that hour brings, not to mention the frantic confusion of then trying to find the misplaced handset to make it stop. I also absolutely seethe with resentment when I get calls from strangers whose cretinous reply to my “Hello” is a bewildered “Who are you?” I’m afraid my reply to that one really is unprintable.
My home is also a mecca for demonic toddlers who decide that this is the perfect spot for their first public melt-down. When this happens the parent stands casually chatting to someone while the brat tries to head butt my fence and emits the kind of tortured blood-curdling scream that any murder victim would be proud of. How I look forward to those days. One day last summer, I noticed a group of people outside gathered at my gate, gesticulating wildly and pointing up at the house. Worried that the cat had found a box of matches in the attic and set fire to the roof, I went out to ask them what was wrong. They were a group of French tourists and they were arguing over whether I had a big back garden or not! What? So, they’d come over from one of the biggest most beautiful countries in Europe to stand outside my house and argue over the size of my garden? How dull does your life have to be for that kind of activity? On the upside, I’ve now compiled a glossy colour brochure and I’ll be ready for them this year…..