This could be an encroaching age thing, but I can't help noticing just how unremittingly fucking noisy my world is.
Living in a box amid a series of other boxes doesn't help. I am surrounded by people stomping around upstairs, screaming downstairs, or fucking each other into the middle of next week somewhere else.
For example, there is the oft-mentioned French neighbour, currently blasting out hardcore techno. Granted, it's 9pm, but I am shattered and any hopes of an early night are now ruthlessly destroyed like a British soldier fighting near some Americans.
Then there are my new loved-up neighbours upstairs. I attempted an early night on Wednesday, and got woken up by their walking, softly, like an elephant that's just spotted a mouse.
Downstairs are my South American neighbours. They have a child that likes to shriek on Saturday mornings. They also like to play James fucking Blunt most afternoons.
Outside my window is a high street. A big one. The gentle rumble of traffic is a constant, as is hooting of the Angry genus, because I am not far from a left turn onto another main road. There are traffic lights at this junction, complete with a left turn filter arrow. Consequently, at least three idiots an evening (seven at weekends) don't budge when this arrow appears, causing fury in the row of vehicles behind them. Thus, I don't so much hear a gentle 'parp' of the horn, more an outraged cacophony of sixteen klaxons that roar for ten minutes. (Slight exaggeration.)
Ah, and here comes a violently loud police siren.
At 5:30am yesterday morning, I was awoken by cackling. Looking out of the window, I spied a mad old woman on a bench, the latest Sainsbury's biodegradable plastic bags affixed to her worn-out boots with rope. She was lying on her back and yelling like Britney Spears after a night on the tiles.
That was fun.
And work's no better. I work next door to a pub. Specifically, my desk is right next to a wall, the other side of which is fixed a speaker. As such, I get to hear a rhythmic throb of the latest chart hits which, in duller moments of my employment (between 9am and 6pm), I am reminded of what it sounds like when I'm in bed, trying to fall asleep. Sometimes I confuse work with sleep and get a momentary impulse to leave my desk to yell at a Frenchman when I remember that I should be working, or something.
We also have a resident nutter living near my place of employment, a young Scandinavian woman with issues of sanity (she has none), who likes to walk slowly down the middle of the street screaming in Swedish, normally when her medication's run out.
Two weeks ago, she was being frisked by two men in civilian clothing, forcing me to check that they were in fact coppers and not just two perverts copping a feel. (I had been under the impression that only female policepeople could search lady humans.)
And today, as I was queuing up at the bank, a young girl with attention-seeking needs burst through the door and screamed out random songs. My mistake was to acknowledge her disapprovingly, which I did via the medium of grimacing. This merely provided her with a clown to humiliate in public, yelling 'Ooh, sexy, sexy. Sexy man's body', while I went bright red and got quite nervous.
I went out yesterday, on a school night. For some reason, my friends will not accept 'Not feeling like another drink' as a justifiable excuse for not having another drink.
So I had seven pints and got to bed at 2am.
Thus, my bank holiday weekend starts sedately, at home. It's 9:30pm and I'm very much up for an early night. Sadly, this is not on the cards. There's a bar below my flat and they make a colossal din til midnight, and in between breaks of speeding traffic noise, I can hear an entire conversation in Urdu, and some geezers yelling obscenities somewhere off to the right.
I simply can't imagine the concept of a quiet part of London.