Thursday, April 23, 2009

When the Twit Hits the Fan

If you follow me on Twitter you may have been party to an unfortunate 'twincident' recently in which I had to apologise to a neighbour who'd taken offence at a couple of my tweets complaining about his sound polluting activities. Admittedly, my comments were on the scathing side, but if he had ever bothered to get to know me, my neighbour would have realised that the barbed humour on which he found himself at the receiving end is not generally to be taken seriously. Even my closest, dearest friends are accustomed to being insulted on a regular basis - it is just the nature of my humour. In fact the language to which he took particular offence was a quote from a TV programme we were watching at the time - which just goes to show that you should never jump to infer an insult from a statement without knowing its full context.

I'll make no secret of the fact we don't get on with 'them upstairs' - things started out cordially, but far from warm, and lately we've been lucky if we're acknowledged in passing with as much as a grunt. We tried to make the effort in the early days, but our social invitations were never even acknowledged and attempts to be friendly, unrequited. And it's not the first time we've come to blows over noise levels - sometimes it's like living inside a drum, and every now and then they properly drop the bomb. Our attempts to deal with these incidents in a rational, friendly manner have always incurred the most defensive and indignant responses. They have made it quite clear - stated it to our faces, and in company so loudly we could hear it downstairs - that they have no respect or consideration for us.

It was particularly unfortunate that on this occasion they had caught us during an already stressful weekend; for deeply personal reasons which I shall not go into here, we were both feeling extremely on edge. So when the music started thumping out, accompanied by loud stamping around on the ineffectually insulated floor/ceiling that divides us, we threw out a couple of frustrated but hardly serious tweets. Why? Because we know from bitter experience that an hour can very easily lead to eight, neither of us could face another confrontation, and we both needed a decent night's sleep.

In hindsight I admit that my Twitter outburst may have seemed OTT, but was it really any worse than the insults we've often over heard them throwing our way during previous domestic disputes, just because it was published online? If they'd been nicer and more considerate neighbours to begin with, it would never have come to this. Based on our previous interactions, I'm sure they won't see it that way, and of course there's a good chance they'll be reading this and fuming.

It is not my intention in writing this to further aggravate the situation, but I would like them to see it from our point of view. Not content with blitzing our domestic peace on a regular basis, they're out there, reading this and every other online utterance we make, anonymously stalking our every move - when they can't even bring themselves to talk civilly to us in person. We find this disturbing. There's not a lot we can do about it, but I only hope that when and if they read this, they'll realise how completely unreasonable they have been, and we can begin to get back on cordial terms. Once, we had hoped to build friendships, as we have with many other neighbours here and elsewhere over the years. Now we just want a bit of peace and quiet, and not to feel threatened in our own home.

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With huge thanks to Ant for his contributions to this post, and for the ongoing moral support without which everyday life would be much more of a trial.
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