Out on our ear
I went for an early swim this morning and sitting in the heat of the sauna felt that sweet unfurling of muscles and monkey mind. Ahhhh….
Then, getting dressed and towelling my wet hair, I switched my phone on.
Bad move! Message from Nick’s landlord flashing onto the screen, telling me that there have been more complaints from the neighbours about the loud music in the middle of the night, and that he is now issuing a Section 21 notice to vacate the property within two months.
We’d started having complaints a couple of weeks ago, when a new tenant moved in next door. No-one had said anything before that, though that doesn’t mean they hadn’t been bothered; we never see any of the other tenants anyway so it’s hard to tell. There are five other flats in the small block and we never meet any of the others. In the first weeks I introduced myself to a red haired girl living upstairs who seemed Ok, but there’s been no sign of her since then. I have seen post for various people with exotic names, noticed lights on and smelled cooking smells but that’s all; they may as well be ghosts.
Anyway, mindful of invisible neighbours, I have repeatedly begged Nick to keep his TV and radio down; he is so deaf, even with hearing aids, that the volume does go up. But I think the main trouble is that his bedroom has a French window opening into the garden and through the warmer summer months he’s taken to sleeping with it open.
All the other flats in the block overlook the garden. When he can’t sleep in the small hours he has a drink and puts the radio on, and I can just imagine the racket that will make because he’ll have taken his hearing aids out…
Apparently one of the neighbours is now working an early shift and is getting rudely woken by the radio blaring through an open door into an echoing open space, so you can’t blame him for being pissed off.
I’ve spent the last couple of weeks religiously making sure that Nick has shut the garden door before going to bed and a few times even hidden the key and unplugged the radio at the wall, just in case. I hate doing this. It’s not that I don’t trust him to do it himself, just that he…in his own words…forgets.
Anyway, I had spent the evening with him and left around 10.30. He was watching the news and I had rationed his wine and felt confident that I could safely leave him. I forgot to check the back door, though.
The landlord says he has also phoned the housing department to emphasise his concerns that Nick be moved on as soon as possible. Will this help our housing application? Well, yes, I’m sure, although the council bidding process is what it is and we’re already leapfrogging the system by declaring Nick a medical priority for speedy re-housing. The downside is that he may end up somewhere grotty, simply because it’s the first eligible property that turns up, and with two months now to find somewhere else and move into it, I don’t see what real choice we have.
I take Nick out for a drive through the autumn leaves and for a cup of coffee in the park to explain the situation. Explain that we’ve been really amazingly lucky to find such a beautiful place so near to me, but there are just too many reasons why it’s not right for him now. He needs a proper bathroom, for one thing.
I just want him to understand what’s happening and not just feel pushed out and shunted around, to have some kind of choice. What does he think?
“I just want to stay where I am” he says. And oh, if only.