For over 4 years, I have been subjected to a barrage of vulgar abuse, vile rumours and harassment from my neighbour next door. This harassment has been in full view of my entire street. A street with 22 houses along it, 11 either side.
Having moved onto this street in 1998, at age 13; I practically grew up with most if not all the neighbours that live on this road. When the street had a power cut, we would all line up outside with lighters and candles, when the Queen had her golden jubilee, we had a street party. My mum and I had bought about 5 wreaths for neighbours who passed away. By no means did we consider them our ‘friends’. But, in our opinion, as far as neighbours went, this street was a modern day Brookside. Without too much drama of course.
This was the kind of street where you would leave your keys in the front door (not intentionally), leave expensive packages in bin cupboards, or walk down the road at any given hour of the day because you had this inate sense that you were safe, and if something went wrong, you only had to shout and someone would come and help you.
But you know those moments when you realise that you were living in a bubble, not really seeing things clearly. Maybe we were just too busy living our lives. After all, we were barely home. Running our online magazine; working days, going to events in the evening. The street was changing but we just didn’t see it. But once we did, there was no way it could be unseen.
We knew they would be trouble when they moved in in the early hours of the morning. It was around 2am in fact. They were moving washing machines and bulky objects. They slammed doors and they made a ruckuss. At first, the woman in question was friendly enough. She told me that we knew each other. I couldn’t place her. So I thought nothing more of it. She kept persisting with it; as if for some reason she was offended that I did not know who she was.
The first few weeks went by without any major incident. We went about our business and they went about theirs, saying hello as we met at the door. We were cordial, there were no problems.
Then the arguments started. The mother and daughter would argue like cats and dogs, the daughter would call her mother every name under the sun.
Bitch, Dick head, Dumb, Pathetic, Crazy. She’d tell her to fuck off, to fuck herself. You name it, she hurled it and it sounded crass. She was unapologetic about it like she was doing something great, slamming out the door, continuing to hurl abuse down the street.
The thing is, you would imagine this type of behaviour would shock most of the neighbours. Instead, It was as if she was being applauded for it. She’d curse, scream, slam and stomp down the road and the neighbours in question would shout over to wish her a great day and that they hoped she was well.
From the moment I saw this response to her behaviour, I knew that things would get worse. Like a circus performer, the more she verbally attacked her mum, the more applause she received. It was only a matter of time before the barrage of abuse turned towards me.
It only took a few more weeks for the music to begin….. relentless hours of playing music, her speakers either placed by the window so it blarred out across the garden or placed against the wall where my bedhead was. I worked in mental health at the time and with quite a strenous role, I needed my sleep. She didn’t think so. She didn’t work (she still doesn’t) so it was no issue for her to sleep all day and stay up all night and have a party. The music would go on for hours. Starting as soon; and I mean as soon as my car pulled onto the drive and she played it until sometimes 4 or 5 in the morning.
This went on for months. I didn’t want to report it, I wanted to get on with my already hectic life and do what I was doing but it felt like the more I tried to ignore it, the longer it went on. Then we’d meet up on the door step and she’d say “everything alright?” knowing full well that it wasn’t. All I remember was a massive smurk all over her face. She wanted attention and she knew the more she continued, the more chances she would get to receiving it.
Then one day I had enough. I walked around to her house and knocked on the door, the music was banging through the walls. I was sleep depraived and had reached my limit. I bang the door more than 10 times, she couldn’t hear it; the music was too loud. So I walked around to the neighbour next door to her. An older white woman. I asked her if had not heard the loud music coming out of the house. She said she barely heard a thing and heard the foxes that stalked the area more. She said it with a smile on her face and I recognised from there that she had already aligned herself with this neighbours family.
So here I was, commuting to work on 3-4 hours sleep a day, Drained stressed and angry, yet there she was laying in bed, doing nothing apart from cussing and banging out music.
I met her mother on the drive one day after work and I approached her to bring the subject to her attention. She was apologetic and appeared to be genuine. She appeared at a loss, as if she had no control over the situation. She called her daughter to the door, who attempted to come across as sorry; but it was evident her apology was fake.
In the end, after too many nights of being sleep depraved, we contacted the noise team who came, listened and promptly issued her a warning. From there, she became progressively worse. The arguments continued, the barrage of abuse kept being hurled at her mother and there we were stuck; next door, craving the life we had before. The worse she behaved, the more she was congratulated for it. It was a nasty and vicious cycle.
Fast forward a few more weeks and a short, dark and quite grim looking figure started to pass around their house all the time. He looked old, so old that it was our belief that he dated her mother. He drove a black car with blacked out windows. He parked his car opposite and adjacent to mine. Every day, I’d come home from work, he’d be there and yet, all he ever did was say hello and keep it moving. He appeared friendly enough and in my eyes, was just one of their friends.
Soon, he was there every single day and no matter what time of day I got home from work, he was there. By this time, I figured he had moved in and again thought nothing of it.
But, then the arguments between her and him started. My mum would be home in the day time when I was at work, she’d watch her throw his clothes onto the drive, throw items at his car. On one instance she told him she’d spit on him. It was a vile sight. Yet the more she played up for the neighbours in question, the more they would greet her and in many ways condone her behaviour. They were engaged spectators, loving the show she was putting on for them and instead of calling her out for her behaviour, they practically cheered her on.
The arguments stopped for a while and for a period, there was equilibrium on the road. No music and no shouting. For a fleeting moment, I thought things had come to a hault; unbeknownst to me, things were going to be taken up a notch and the abuse was going to be redirected to me.
Part 2 – coming soon.