The people upstairs.

Ever since Rhonda and Audrey finally arrived from America, three years ago this week, we have lived on the ground floor of a small block of flats.

It is located on a housing estate built in the late ’80s, at the end of a quiet cul-de-sac, ideally situated for Audrey’s school, Rhonda’s job and local shops. We have our own garden and, until recently, perfectly decent neighbours in the other three flats in the block.

When I originally rented number 14, the flat we now live in, (back when Rhonda and I were still battling the labyrinthine bureaucracy of immigration agencies, on opposite sides of the Atlantic) we were unaware that the landlord was going to sell it six months later, a problem we solved by moving to number 16 next door.

For the next two years we lived next door and got on fine with the nice Hungarian family above us, became friends with Meg and Adam, the young couple who eventually moved into number 14, (after considerable renovation from the state it was in when we lived there) and had no problems with the other upstairs neighbour, who we hardly ever saw or heard from.

Then, in May of this year, when Meg and Adam moved out, we went back across the hall to number 14, due to a very tempting offer from the owner. We had got to know her when she was doing the renovations, (the young couple were the owner’s daughter and her boyfriend) and she wanted someone she could trust to live there; meaning we got a fully refurbished flat, lower rent, no deposit and a nicer garden.

Sound too good to be true?

It is.

Almost as soon as we moved back, it was clear that the pair who had moved into the flat above since we were last there (see photo) were not exactly in thrall to domestic bliss, in fact they seemed to be in an almost constant state of war with each other.

She was heavily pregnant, he was very obviously selling drugs to a steady stream of unpleasant visitors, (which they all stood and openly smoked on the front step, right outside our door, making the stairwell and entryway permanently stink of weed) and they often had long screaming rows, which made Audrey very nervous and resulted in the police being called more than once.

In fact on one occasion, soon after their baby was born, I was already at work at 7 a.m. when Rhonda called to say the woman upstairs was hanging out of the window, screaming “Somebody help me!” so she’d rung the police and they’d arrived, broken up the fight and hauled away The Twat (as I now habitually refer to him) while she screamed that he should never come back, etc etc etc.

Already long story, short; this has happened multiple times over the last few months, with him coming back the next day and the cycle begins all over again.

Sometimes the fights are so violent that we can hear them dragging each other around upstairs and hear every hoarsely screamed obscenity, along with the poor, doomed baby adding its own terrified protests to the infernal din from above.

During my recent whiplash holiday from work, I was here for the latest police visit, informing them that this was the nth time this had happened and what were they going to do about it, because these two lunatics were ruining the lives of everyone within earshot which, given their prowess at bellowing and screaming, was by now quite a radius.

“It’s a domestic, there’s nothing we can do unless a law is broken, speak to the landlord” is the standard police response to this type of enquiry, so once they’ve allegedly restored the peace, they just bugger off and leave us all to it.

Again.

So, having already complained several times to our landlady, who passed on our concerns to the landlord of the flat upstairs (which he rents privately, not through a letting agent, otherwise they’d be gone by now) I finally spoke directly to him on Monday, to find out what he was going to do about his Neighbours From Hell.

Now, I’d mistakenly been under the impression that he would be aghast at hearing of his tenants’ continuing bad behaviour and be keen to see the back of them asap, but no, no such luck.

He initially told me that he’d spoken to The Twat and that he’d promised there’d be no more arguments or noise.

I respectfully enquired when it was he’d acquired this assurance and he told me it was the day before.

I politely informed him that Mr and Mrs Twat had in fact woken Rhonda and Audrey up with a high volume slanging match at 5 o’clock that very morning and therefore, with the greatest of respect, The Twat was talking bollocks.

I also informed him, with nothing but the most delicate diplomacy, of course, that my wife and daughter were regularly subjected to frightening and distressing episodes of violence and that it was his responsibility to do something about it.

What, I enquired gently, the fuck are you going to do about getting rid of these two scumbags, (my diplomatic repertoire was beginning to wear thin at this point) who are making my family’s life a misery?

His answer was; “If at any time you or your family ever feel threatened or nervous in any way, you should of course call the police.”

I pointed out to him in a friendly tone that we had done that, several times, which was why I was ringing him; to tell him he had a pair of menaces to society living in his property and wouldn’t it better for everyone if he evicted them and replaced them with ordinary, decent human beings?

To which he gave this extraordinary reply; “I’m not going to evict them on your say so, I’ll evict them when and if I think the time is right.”

Wait…what?

He’s only going to evict them if I stop complaining that he needs to evict them?

I smell spineless bullshit.

So I did ring the police, again, to ask their advice on a matter they obviously don’t really give a shit about. I even highlighted the child protection issue and they gave me some crap about them “always filling out an at risk form when a child is present at a reported disturbance”.

They told me to see a solicitor, or go to to the Citizens Advice Bureau, or (and this was when I softly hung up the phone) maybe I could try talking to the landlord…?

I did copy out all the landlord’s phone numbers several times and handed them out to the neighbours, making sure they definitely didn’t ring him every five minutes if they heard even slightly raised voices from upstairs.

I guess we’ll just have to wait until he decides the time is right to do something about it and hope his cowardly prevarication isn’t at the cost of the life of mother or child.

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Sticking my neck out.

I’ve had some bloody stupid injuries in my time, but the latest one is possibly the most inane and painful of all.

I had a pretty good weekend; I went to the fair with Audrey on Friday after stopping in at the pub for a quick pint; Rhonda managed to get Saturday evening off for a change so we went to the carnival for a wander round (until it rained); there was a Grand Prix on Sunday (Vettel crashed, Ha!), the sun came out and I spent the afternoon in the garden doing some writing.

All in all, a very pleasant few days.

Then I woke up yesterday and my neck felt like someone had hit the left side of it with a cricket bat while I was asleep.

Great, must have slept funny, (no, not “ha ha”) so I took a couple of ibuprofen and went to work.

By lunchtime I couldn’t turn my head to the left, or tilt it down, or reach out my left arm, or bend forward at all, without a MASSIVE bolt of pain shooting up into the base of my skull, like someone had attached jump leads to my neck.

After couple of hours of the pain getting progressively worse, I gave in. I called the doctor and got an appointment at the rapid access clinic half an hour later, leaving work while I could still move well enough to drive…

“So, what did you do to yourself this time.”

(Oh lucky me, it’s the same nurse who patched me up after the various chunks I’ve taken out of myself on previous occasions)

“I don’t know, honestly.”

*Examines badly inflamed and rock hard neck muscles*

“Ow!”

“Hmm, did you do anything over the weekend that might have injured it?”

“No! I honestly just sat in the garden yesterday, I didn’t do anything all weekend, I went to the fair with my daughter on Friday….”

“Go on any rides?”

“Yeah, the Bumper Cars…Ah.”

“Yep, you’ve got whiplash.”

“Oh for f…”

“I’ll give you some muscle relaxants, they’re valium.”

“Really? Oh, go on then. No work?”

“Oh no, they’ll make you very sleepy, you won’t be able to drive or work for a couple of days.”

“That’s a shame.”

“I bet. Now, you can only take three a day and stop taking them when you’re better, because they’re very addictive, ok?”

“Ok, got it.”

“But I’ll give you twenty eight, anyway, because you can always hang onto them, in case you need them in future.”

(Wait, what?)

“Um, ok. How long do they last?”

“About four hours.”

“Hahaha, no, how long do they keep for?”

“Ah, right, they’ll have an expiry date on them.”

And now I’m sat at home with neck muscles that feel like strips of teak, despite the fact I felt perfectly fine all weekend.

Having never had whiplash before, I’d never fully appreciated a) how painful it is, or b) the strange delayed action involved in its onset. I went on the dodgems (with Audrey driving, I might add) at about four o’clock on Friday afternoon and had no inkling there was anything wrong until first thing Monday morning

So, there you have it.

Whiplash.

On the bloody dodgems.
They’re going to love that at work.

It was a fun day out, though, and for those of you who enjoy watching unforseen injuries in action, here’s the video I shot whilst my neck was being primed to torture me three days later.

My favourite part is near the start, when Audrey notices the camera for the first time and her expression changes from fearsome concentration to a happy grin in one quick double-take.

Buckle up, it’s a bumpy ride!

The End and beyond.

I’m sorry if you were expecting to find my (almost) regular SoCS post here, but I’m afraid today has been too full of geeky anticipation and online nerdiness for me to concentrate on anything other than…

…THE FINALE OF TWIN PEAKS: THE RETURN!!!!

Ok, I know, I know, the vast majority of you won’t have the faintest clue of why that is so significant, but (as I’m sure you’re aware by now) I am a massive fan of David Lynch’s surreal tv universe; you know, the one where he redefined what tv shows could be?

Well, quite frankly, over the last three months, he’s done it again.

But I’m not here to wax lyrical about how utterly and completely Lynch has rewritten the rule book, or just how astounding The Return has been. No I’m here to wax lyrical (again) about the millions of other people like me; the fans.

You can read about The Woolhouse Boys here, if you haven’t already heard about us, but I’m not just talking about that merry band of brothers, I’m talking about the truly extraordinary online community of groups, pages and individuals, who have made this second bite of the Twin Peaks cherry so much more than just being a fan of a tv show.

I have met a huge number of creative, talented, funny and genuinely warm people over the last six months of communal geeking, both leading up to and during (probably) the final season of “our show”, as it is often affectionately referred to, many of whom I’m sure I will remain friends with for years to come.

Because as it turns out, it isn’t just a love of Twin Peaks we have in common, it’s an attitude, a worldview, a philosophy if you like, which seems to be shared by those of us who gravitate to Lynch’s universe. Rarely (not since discovering the blogging community, in fact) have I been part of an extended group of people, with such a diverse demographic, which has been so inclusive, friendly and welcoming of new ideas.

Whether it’s the brash, snarky, too-clever-by-half memeing of the Logposters™, the deep analysis and thought experiments of the discussion groups, or, yes, the joyous parody of the Woolhouse Boys, my Facebook newsfeed has been solid Twin Peaks posts since May 21st, when the greatest tv show ever made made its triumphant return to our screens after over a quarter of a century.

And then there are the stars of the show, who joined in with our jolly japes and daft sweater montages; John Pirruccello (Chad Broxford) in particular, who we were honoured to welcome into our group, has been a total star and a great sport and it’s obvious to see his love for the fans and for the show itself; Billy Zane, who exchanged jokes with us on Twitter and still owes us a photo of him with his dad in the sweater; James Grixoni, (Deputy Jesse) who, along with John, met up with some of the Woolhouse Boys in person at the recent Twin Peaks fest, but especially to the lovely Sabrina Sutherland, executive producer of the show, Lynch and Frost’s right hand woman and fierce hunter-down of spoiler leakers.

In fact Sabrina made my day only yesterday, by showing her support and appreciation for our other group, The Cult of Chad…

And now there are only two episodes left and I will be getting up at 5am tomorrow morning to watch them before work, so I can find all my fellow geeks online and say; “Oh wow, wasn’t that…”

So I’d just like to say a sincere and heartfelt thank you to all of the new friends I’ve made and to everyone who helped make the entire experience a real event, in an age when television has become disposable and social media is sometimes a cold and bleak place to hang out.

Thank you, in no particular order, to;

Joel, Kneel, Wyatt, Nev, Chris, Mark, Dan, Tara, Emily, Christian, Jill, Noah, John, Sabrina, Rachel, Neil, Laura, Thomas, William and all the other wonderful folks who get it.

I’ll see you all in the trees.

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