Thursday, November 11, 2004

Enter Sandman


Other news stories from my day ...

Records removed from my MP3 player today:

Everything by Radiohead, because life is short, and precious

Christmas Rock
- Jon bon Jovi (not sure what that was doing there in the first place)

Tracks added to my MP3 player today:

Da Da Da
(German Version) - Trio

Two more covers of Walking in Memphis to add to the seven or eight already there

Enter Sandman
- Metallica

In an attempt to alter my consciousness I went to bed last night with Enter Sandman playing continuously on my headphones. Yes, it is quite jarring and I can understand why the CIA uses this technique to break terror suspects. However, this is but nothing compared to living in a flat underneath the incomparably deaf, clumsy and brutally selfish xxxxxxx family of Lambeth as we do. Give me Abu Ghraib any time.

This week has been particularly special for neighbour noise by anybody's standards. The folks next door are building a new bathroom and we are woken every morning by the sounds of banging and power drills impacting on our shared wall. We can hear their new toilet flush when lying in bed at night. They've built the new toilet for their parents when they visit. One of the parents has a bowel problem. The people on the other side are extending the rear of their building and appear to be pile-driving. The people upstairs have had their grandchildren round lately, which involves the tartrazine-powered brats jumping up and down above our front room for hours on end. This is worse than usual as the jumping is normally restricted to just two or three oafish bouncing adults who shout at each other pretty much all of the time. Maybe they're rehearsing a Kung fu movie.

We live in a drum.

As I type, Bill and Carl the friendly plumbers are in our flat trying to repair some of the horrendous damage done as a succession of plumbers drove a replacement water supply for upstairs, Channel Tunnel style, through the flat. Without exaggeration, this is getting on for the 25th visit made by workmen to our flat to complete this work. I am now on first name terms with 10 plumbers, not counting the one who died and another who emigrated since the works started. I was originally told by the people upstairs that it would require a morning's work and that they would sue me if I refused. My bathroom floor is now composed of rubble, scantily covered by the shreds of what's left of the lino.

Even though I made a point of buying a £3.50 visitors parking permit for Bill and Carl's van, which is clearly displayed in their windscreen, I've had to run out of the flat twice this morning to chase off two different Nigerian traffic wardens writing them a ticket. The first time I also noticed the now familiar sight of an East African peeing on the street. The second time I caught a middle aged Central American couple rummaging through my dustbin. Earlier on in the morning, I went to buy some biscuits for Bill and Carl and was delayed somewhat by the two Indian guys in the cornershop arguing with an East European who was trying to work some kind of phone card scam. As a general point, South London convenience store owners are heroes in the truest sense and put themselves on the line every single day. A little later on in the day an Algerian looking temporary postman considerately popped next door's mail into my letterbox. I'm not sure where our own mail is. Tracy's been expecting a particular package from New Zealand for a couple of weeks now. Regretably there's a risk that it may have looked valuable.

The next offending traffic warden is going to have his picture taken as I pose as a benefit fraud investigator. That usually works a treat.

That's the thing about life in London. Like huge resentment storage batteries, people live their lives constantly topped up with fresh irritation and anger. Once fully-charged, just the slightest annoyance can result in full, and immediate, discharge. That's why the simple act of, say, bumping into someone on the Tube can lead to a disproportionate torrent of abuse or 30 rounds of bare knuckle fighting. 'Don't f*ck with me pal. I've had a hard day already'.

I hate living in this city so much now. OK, it's nothing by the standard of what's going on in the Sudan or Gaza for example but I wonder how many people in the developed World find themsleves obliged to seek solace by comparing their lives with people in a refugee camp.
Anyway, I'm expecting half the population of Darfur to make their way to Lambeth by this time next year anyway. It's only fair I suppose. Lambeth is such a affluent, well-blessed part of the World it's only right that we should receive about 1000x more refugees than anywhere else outside of a Tanzanian border camp.

I suspect that things would be a lot easier if I was rich but we're talking really rich. A friend of mine recently bought a small house in Surrey Quays a couple of miles from here. It's not that big and probably would have been home to a bus conductor or similar 20 years ago. My friend is a Finance Director of a largish company and was extremely happy that he could afford that particular house. In any other developed country he would be living somewhere with twin garages and a pony out back in a field. The first time I visited his new house we adjourned for a curry in a nearby restaurant. The conversation drifted to the fact that his area was a lot less scummy than where I live. A little later on, five or six men assaulted one of the restaurant staff on the street outside. The entire cooking and waiting team stormed outside carrying irons pipes and assorted kitchen utensils. Nice.

Those Iraqis in Abu Ghraib are wimps and they're going to have toughen up considerably if they ever want to think about claiming asylum in South London.

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