Saturday, February 09, 2008

the delights of inner city life

In the night I weave in and out of sleep to the sound of an argument far away. An angry man and another softer, yet urgent, voice. I think it is on the street around the corner and figure they will keep on walking and move away.

At an hour earlier than I would like it to be, a door bangs loudly. Either a backdoor to one of the many houses that edge onto the lane that my bed is a mere couple of metres away from, or the hastily made gate that locks up a renovation further down the alley. For more than 6 months I’ve needed no alarm clock as I awake to the rumbling of the builder’s old ute backing down over the bluestones. Even on a Saturday.

Now there is shouting again and I realise it is the bullying man who is faceless but lives in one of those homes abutting my laneway. He shouts relentlessly at his partner, muffled this time by a cool morning, meaning mercifully their windows are shut for a change. In summer their arguments are usually staged in their small backyard while their son sleeps at the other end of the house. At 1am when I would prefer to sleep it is not unusual to hear the domestic drama play out spitting distance to where I would otherwise be sleeping,

Such a vicious argument before breakfast is unusual for them, or worse it means they have been at war all night and what I had thought came from the street was just the neighbours having an almighty row. Thankfully the latest round is short lived, though not brief enough for me to fall back to sleep. At times I am tempted to call the police. Though there isn’t any audible evidence of physical violence – just unpleasantness.

I know neighbours should not get involved. It is just part of the delights of inner city life where a raised voice mimics a radio play. I just wish they’d change genres. Or even better – he’d leave.

What keeps people together through such happiness? Just because her voice is quieter, does it mean she is the victim? Women have been known to invent all sorts of nastiness. We are crafty and good at locating emotional Achilles Heels. But even if she spits soft arrows of venom, does it make it ok for him to release his tirade? It is exhausting just having to witness it from a distance. At close range his anger would be very frightening.

This is a neighbourhood known for its baristas and leafy parks, not guns or knives. Street violence is rare and even the junkies have had the decency to move on now the phone box from which the dealer did his doings has been removed. Tightly packed in our little terrace houses we get used to the spillage of light, sound and smells emanating from one home to another. We learn to tolerate each other as best as possible (except for the active octogenarian on the other side who puts up with little – weeds escaping from my garden, the siting of the new washing line, cats straying onto her property). We do not get involved in domestics.

It is not a decision that sits easily. Next time, I just might call the cops.

2 Comments:

Blogger Smirking Cat said...

I had neighbors like that once; they fought every night, loudly, even throwing furniture. I had to call the police twice in one night, during an especially loud fight. It's stressful and upsetting to be pulled unwillingly into their misery.

10:50 am  
Blogger Bwca said...

Just buy earplugs from the chemist.
The cops are too stupid to conceal the identity of the complainant from the offenders.

7:08 pm  

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