[Neighbour's door]We’ve been having a few more hassles with our neighbours in the flat downstairs. It’s nothing major, you understand, just a matter of a television blaring infomercials at three o’clock in the morning. And it’s in the room directly below our bedroom, while I, Runner-up of the Pan-Pacific Light Sleepers Competition 1997, try to get a good night’s sleep to help deal with the day ahead.

So I did what any sensible person would do. I thumped on the floor, in the vain hope that whoever had the TV pumped up would hear <bang> <bang> <bang> and interpret this as "Excuse me, but would you mind turning the television down, I’m having difficulty in sleeping". Or possibly what I was actually thinking which was "Turn that bloody racket off! What kind of moron is up at three in the morning watching infomercials anyway?!?"

This of course, didn’t work, because either the miscreant couldn’t hear it over the TV, or they had decided that it was in the best interests of the world and indeed the universe at large that they continue watching infomercials at 120dB.

After trying for a few minutes to find a sleeping position that would involve either the pillow or my hands or both covering both of my ears, and failing to find any that wouldn’t involve spending most of the rest of my life in a wheelchair with serious back problems, I went downstairs and rang their doorbell.

Manually operated doorbells have a habit of sounding particularly cranky and urgent in the dead of night, if you ring them the right way. Which I did. After a couple of rings I could hear heavy breathing behind the door, and was certain I was being watched through the peep-hole. Who was it? Some mutant creature from the pit, with three heads and claws instead of hands and a penchant for watching infomercials?

"Who is it?" a sleepy middle-aged woman’s voice called out.

I explained that I was Thax from the planet Thorgwarz 7, that their TV was so loud that it was stopping generations of Thorgwarzians from spawning and invading their puny world, and could she please turn the volume down.

Actually, no, I explained that their TV was so loud it was keeping me awake. And though I probably sounded quite irritable, I tried to be terribly polite, because I really would prefer in this type of situation that the TV would just be turned down, rather than getting into a huge argument about it.

She went and turned it down, and explained later when I ran into her on the stairs at a more civilised hour that her (adult) son sometimes can’t sleep, and when that happens he turns on the TV. Erm… right. (Why infomercials and why at such an annoyingly loud volume, I don’t know.)

Anyway, I returned to bed, and happily fell asleep to the sound of the son’s snoring, which was probably almost as loud as the TV, but much less annoying.

This was a week and a half ago. It happened again on Monday night, more or less as above, including the bit about the aliens which I didn’t really say. But it wasn’t infomercials, it sounded more like a really bad scifi movie.

But I’ll try and be grown up about it. As long as I remain friendly towards them, I guess the woman will keep turning down the TV when I ask – and will probably try and get the son to keep it down, so she isn’t the one who has to answer the door at three o’clock in the morning.

I won’t argue with them about it. I won’t intentionally do do silly things that irritate them. I won’t do anything that might cause a confrontation and the assorted hassles that would go with it.

So I’ll just keep quiet, not make a fuss, and quietly post this story on the Web, where tens of millions of people can read all about it. It’s the mature thing to do.

By Daniel Bowen

Transport blogger / campaigner and spokesperson for the Public Transport Users Association / professional geek.
Bunurong land, Melbourne, Australia.
Opinions on this blog are all mine.