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Curtains and curfews

11 August 2011 by superlative

It has been four weeks since we moved into our flat now. Four weeks that have really gone very quickly, that have been insanely busy, and which have made moving day feel like ages ago.

The flat is starting to look really nice, and I think there is only half a box of junk left that we haven’t unpacked. We have our lovely new sofa, and we have sorted out our guest room such that we might actually be able to use it as a guest room now, rather than the Room Of Shame where all the crap we haven’t dealt with yet has been hiding.

For the first time in my life I have had to buy curtains, and FUCKING HELL are they expensive. The ones in our bedroom cost £140! For squares of cloth on little hooks! I had no idea; I have obviously been living a very curtain-sheltered life. It has also made me feel very old, trolling around C&H Fabrics going “Hmm, I like the pattern on those, but they’re pencil pleat not eyelets”. Why the fuck do I know what pencil pleat is now?? That’s not cool! But anyway, all the windows have curtains now, so I plan never to buy any ever again. Or to wash them. I’ll be too busy having homosexual parties.

I have been subtly probing the secretary of our freehold company this week, and got some contact details for the woman who owns the flat above us (the one with the toddler-elephants). The noise has been quite bad at times, always just toddler noise rather than anything else, but their parents just make NO attempt to control them. Why are parents like that these days? They think if they upset their child by telling them not to do something, they must be a bad parent. So even though we have complained twice, and Chris has banged on the ceiling several times (which always results in several hours of pure silence), they still haven’t actually told their children not to play ball games in the house or run fifty times from one end of it to the other. Stupid parents. So I emailed the owner of the flat anyway, and I have found out that the flat is indeed a short-let holiday type place now. It seems to be the woman’s second home by the sea, so she’ll be there a fair bit herself, and then it’ll be empty some of the time I expect, and will have paying guests at others. She was very nice about the noise, and apologised for it, and has said that she thinks she’ll put an age restriction on any children who come to stay in the flat. So that would be great from our point of view, because I don’t think we’ll hear normal adult noise much, or will easily be able to ignore it, and slightly older children don’t tend to run and cry so much.

So that was some good news anyway. She’s a yoga teacher, I have found out by internet stalking her, and I now know where she lives in London. It’s terrifying sometimes what you can find out in five minutes on Google. I bet she’s a hippy. A rich hippy though, with a house in London and a flat in Brighton.

The curfew bit of this post title was because I had planned to say something on the subject of the recent riots in cities around the UK. I’m not sure if I can really be bothered to get into it now, as those sorts of posts always attract critical comments, but I like the alliteration of the title so I’m not changing it. Suffice it to say I have been both very shocked and very saddened by the scenes of British people smashing up their own communities, and feeling so disenfranchised and disengaged that they see society as ‘other people’ and don’t care what happens to them.

I’m not totally surprised, as it is really in keeping with attitudes that have been growing for some time. I went to school in a not particularly nice area of London, and even back then in the 90s there were kids who simply had no respect for other people, for their property, or for the rule of law. And that just seems to have grown over time, to the point where most people are too frightened to challenge anti-social behaviour when they see it because they might get stabbed. Is that really the country we live in now?

There were two girls on the radio, who had just been looting, who said “This is the rich people’s fault. We’re showing them we can do what we want”. As terrifying I found that sentence, it is not actually incorrect. Yes you can do what you want. Everyone can. We are policed by consent, and the police can’t actually stop you doing most things. They can only hope to arrest and punish you afterwards. But most people feel it is wrong to break the law, and if given an instruction by a police officer they’ll just obey it. Hardly anyone (I hope) would assault a police officer, not because they can’t but because they know on principle that it is wrong. So yes you can do what you want; but the fact that people are doing what they want, and what they want is to smash their own high street up and steal from people who may only be marginally better off than they are, is really scary. People say this is due to deprivation and marginalisation; to people being called ‘scum’ and so behaving like it. In some ways I’m sure that’s right; but at the same time, lots of the looters we have seen on the television probably aren’t that deprived – they have nice trainers and mobile phones. So it is much more complicated than that.

Anyway, I’m not going to go into it much more. I just hope the trouble dies down now. One of the most pleasing things to come out of this so far is the sense of community that has been generated among people affected by the riots, with people helping each other out, cleaning up together, and raising money for those that have lost everything. If that continues in the future, it may actually do our cities some good.

Changing the subject, it is Brighton Pride this weekend, so I’m sure it will be a busy one. Sunburn doesn’t look like it’s going to be an issue – the forecast is cloud or intermittent drizzle – but it will hopefully be fun nonetheless, and if I’m careful I might be able to enjoy it without too catastrophic a hangover. This year the park will feature performances by Joe McElderry, Alexandra Burke, and SONIA! Yes Sonia from the 80s, who apparently isn’t dead. So I’m sure it will be fun. I’ll blog about it after the weekend.

Stay safe everyone (that seems to be what you say to each other at the moment) and for FUCK’S SAKE BE NICE TO EACH OTHER. We all have to live here together, and it’ll be much more pleasant if we aren’t beating each other’s skulls in.


  1. Maff says:

    I didn’t really care for learning who you’ve been probing. That’s between you and your wife. But I am glad that the owner is at least aware of the problem and that she’s going to make an attempt at fixing it. A lot of people might have ignored your email, so it’s lovely that you may get some resolution and some peace and quiet.

    And if you don’t – let me know where she lives in London and I’ll go and rough her up a bit. Y’know – cos that’s what we do round these parts now.

  2. superlative says:

    She’s only a stupid hippy anyway, so I’m sure you could take her. I bet she has a bead curtain as the door to her kitchen. You could give her a good whip in the face with that for a start.

    She lives near Muswell Hill anyway, so start planning your attack vector.

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