A COLLECTION OF STORIES BY LUKE TAGG
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SMOKE: An Insane Babble

Originally published: 2 December 2004

I've been noticing noise pollution more and more but I can't work out whether there is more noise these days than there used to be or if I'm just getting older and grumpier.

I'm big on not minding neighbourhood noise, mostly because I can't abide it when people complain about it. This is the 21st century here - we all live on top of one another, and if you don't like lots of noise then move into the country, friend. If you can't move into the country then live with it like the rest of us.

But that's just general noise that I don't mind, even though it appears to be getting louder. Things like traffic, arguments, drunken louts in the street and music I can handle.

What I cannot abide, however, is unnecessary noise, and my life is chock-full of it at the moment.

I've written about my neighbours before but I need to write about them again, because the noise level from their house has become an appalling litany of meaningless noise which filters through my open window for 16 hours every day, driving me insane.

I have the misfortune of living next door to Monkey Boy - a childish, just-finished-school teenage boy who behaves like a five-year-old.

He's all very cool when his hip young friends come around but when it's just him alone with his younger brother and sister he becomes an unintelligible, loud-mouthed prat, who does nothing but roar out loud every five minutes - not words, just a roar ("Phwoaar!") - and who doesn't stop with a steady stream of noise from morning to night.

He torments his little sister mercilessly - teasing her until she cries or screams, calling her names at the top of his voice and generally goading and goading her until she cracks.

That's the sort of thing you do when you're a small kid - not a teenage boy who's a year or two out of school already.

But that's not all - he exaggerates things like sneezing. He has an inability to sneeze like a normal human being - he takes the sneeze and develops it into an entire cabaret act with supporting band, dinner, waiters and live nude girls.

"Pheeeyouwaaaatishoooooooooooah!!!!"

At the top of his lungs. And since he's either seriously allergic or just plain spastic you get a couple of dozen mega-sneezes every single day, and I'm afraid the novelty value of a neighbour with an unusual sneeze has long since worn off, to be replaced with a steady, cold, calculated hatred.

I hate that oke, bru. I really, really hate him. And forget-ye-not - he's the little bastard who stole my favourite CD from my desk, by reaching through the window.

I know it was him because a couple of weeks later I heard the CD being played next door, and even though I will concede it's possible that teenage boys in Claremont are Rammstein devotees, the coincidence is altogether a little much.

But it's not all Monkey Boy, unfortunately. He's the rhythm and bass section of our little band next door, holding together the entire thing with his monotonous beat.

The lead singer is unquestionably the dog. I know it's boring to harp on about noisy dogs because we've all had 'em and we all hate 'em, but trust me - you've never experienced anything like this one.

It's a small, yappy dog, and desperately unhappy. They leave it outside 24/7 - rain or shine (it has a kennel but becomes very bedraggled once the wind shifts the rain in) - and they never give it a moment's love or attention.

It spends its entire life in the side alley and can't even go to the front to peer under the gate at the world going by.

So naturally it barks its head off, and just like selfish mothers at restaurants who don't notice the racket their kid is making and shut the little monsters up, so too does the noise of the dog not bother our neighbours in the slightest.

Occasionally they will yell at it from inside, too lazy to lift their fat asses up and bring it inside, but of course the dog takes no notice of them.

It's long since learned that they will never do anything about it, so it just ignores their pathetic attempts to shut it up and they eventually get bored.

I can shut it up - I'm the only person who can. It started a long time ago when one day I'd had enough, opened my window with as much noise as possible and screamed "Shut the fuck up you little Pig or I'll climb over that wall and kill you!"

I was shouting at the dog, but my sentiment was for the neighbours.

Now - you've never heard me scream at the top of my lungs so it's impossible to describe to you the full effect I have when I do so, but suffice it to say that when I open my lungs nobody can match my roar. Monkey Boy can only dream.

The dog got such a fright it was silent for two days straight, and a minute or two after screaming I heard the sliding door open quietly, a hushed whisper at the dog, and then it was closed again. It's the only time I've ever know them to take their dog inside.


But soon the dog got bored again and went back to its old ways, and although I still regularly lean out of the window and scream blue murder at it it's only ever a temporary solution.

So most of the time I just let it be, which means I have Monkey Boy going off and a dog barking pretty much all day, in a high-pitched, irritating staccato.

Finally - the maid. She comes in twice a week when the mother is out, and if there's nobody else at home she spends her entire time talking to herself at the top of her voice.

She doesn't stop - she goes on and on and on for hours, from about 7am until well into the afternoon, and it really wears me down.

She doesn't just talk to herself, though - she has massive arguments and fights with herself as well - scolding herself, remonstrating, arguing, bitching and caterwauling.

It's nuts. I talk to myself all the time, but I don't get emotional about it. I don't try and beat myself up for the things I've been saying to myself. And I certainly don't let anyone hear it.

All of these things combined make for a steady stream of unbearable noise, and since my study window is a metre from the side wall, and their door two metres from the wall on their side, I'm only separated from their noise by three metres.

Two metres of which is patrolled by their stinking, stupid mutt, just straining to hear the slightest noise it can bark at.

One should just become accustomed to neighbourhood noise, but in this case I can't. It's starting to wear me down. Definitely a viable form of torture, I would think - a steady stream of noise will make the toughest nut crack and confess all his dirty little secrets.

Guess I need to start considering the country option after all.

All Smoked Out,
Luke Tagg
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