This post is very much out of character with the rest of my writings but if I may beg the indulgence of my audience for a personal matter I would be grateful.
I shall begin with some facts about my place of residence for matters that will eventually become clear.
I live in a flat. I have three flats which adjoin me: one above, one below and another to my right (as seen from standing outside my front door). The flats were built across 2003/04 and I have been living there (and paying a mortgage on it) since then. The inside of the flat is carpeted with the exception of the bathroom and the kitchen.
Scene set? Then away we go.
Last Saturday (June 18th for the avoidance of doubt) I was at home doing my ironing whilst watching V for Vendetta on BBC3 (2100 – 2305 hrs) when, shortly before 2200, I had a knock on my door. Answering the door I see a gentleman that I don’t recall ever seeing until that moment. He tells me that he is from the flat below (at this point, to the best of my knowledge, the only people I knew who lived there where a mother and her daughter and they have been in there since 2008) and informs me that he can hear my television. Whilst personally I didn’t think that it was particularly loud I nevertheless apologised for disturbing him and said I’d turn it down. Call me naive but at this point, if the roles were reversed, I’d have said thank you and gone back to my own flat. His parting words were (and I know I’m paraphrasing here) something like “Don’t make me have to come up here again.”
Scroll forward to this evening (June 24th) and I’m at home about to clear up after some cake baking when I hear a knock at the door. They knock again before I can get to the door. Now I do not for the life of me know why I did it but before I opened the door I looked through the spy hole to see who the caller was. However I couldn’t see anything because it was being obscured by a hand or some part there of. Considering this suspicious I did something I simply cannot recall ever doing before and put the safety chain on. Then I opened the door. My caller is the same gentleman from Saturday and he wants to complain about the noise he said I made when I got home last night.
Last night (June 23rd) I went out for a meal with a friend. I got home just after 2230 and went up to my room. I can’t be exact on the timing of getting through the door but I do know that I sent this tweet at 2240. My activities once I got home were to undress, carve some ham so I could make a roll for my midmorning snack the next day, have something non-alcoholic to drink, clear up the mess of clothes and other personal items from my bed where they had all been unceremoniously dumped and perform my nightly ablutions. I sent my last tweet at 0002 but didn’t do to bed until almost 0100 as I was talking to someone on instant messenger for much later than I had intended to. During this time I was in and out of my bedroom a few times (I don’t know how many but it was probably more than 10) and because I hadn’t used a doorstop to pin the door open (all the doors are fire doors and – with the exception of the bathroom – have returns on them) it was closing behind me all of the time.
He tells me that my actions once I got home last night woke him up and that he heard every door close. I am also informed that I woke up the five year old girl as well. Given that I often let the door close behind me – and at all hours – and I have never yet had any complaints from my neighbours about it I was rather surprised but did the only thing I can do which is apologise and say that I’ll try to be more careful in future. This though isn’t enough for him. He is upset at me because I do not wish to open the door fully to speak with him. He tells me that he had to get up at 5AM to go to work and didn’t appreciate the interrupted sleep. He apparently believes me to be a dosser but I don’t know why. He says that he is a builder and that he knows some people – although without qualifying this. He mentions that he knows I am a cyclist and that he knows where the bike shed on the development is.
To my ears none of this was said in a polite tone and I did more than once say to him – mostly in reply to his repeated demands I open the door fully – that I believed him to be threatening me. I did also indicate that I would call the police and did at one point even call out to my lodger (who was in and heard all of this) to dial 999.
Once I had finally closed the door on him I could hear him in the hallway and, although I cannot confirm this as I didn’t go to the spy hole and check, it seemed he was on the phone to someone and he certainly mentioned my flat number.
Afterwards the first thing I did was to have a chat with my lodger just to make sure that it wasn’t just me who thought he was threatening. I was at this point shaking. The tears came later.
Various people on twitter as well as my dad have advised me to call the police. I’m still unsure as to whether or not to do this as if they have a word with him then he knows what I have done and that could make matters worse. However if I do nothing they could get worse anyway.
In the meantime I shall watch myself whilst closing the bedroom door just to be on the safe side and keep a wary eye out for strangers loitering in the area. I will also try over the weekend to pop into the nearest open police station and ask for some advice and I shall check to see if the old dictaphone a previous lodger left works so that if I get another performance I can record the incident.
Update: I went to the Police Station this morning (Sat June 25th) to report the matter and now have an incident number. I’m told that someone will be in touch.
Update 2: The police came visiting this morning (Sun June 26th). They read the printed copy of this post, listened to me and agreed that his reaction sounded somewhat OTT. They had a quick glance at the TV to satisfy themselves that I don’t have a set-up which would rival Disaster Area’s sound system and advised me to be slightly more cautious about things like door closing as sound does apparently carry more than I thought in these flats. I got the distinct impression that they have been here before for noise complaints – and potentially more.
Afterwards they went to see him and get his side of the story but he wasn’t in.