Neighbours… They help us when we’re out of sugar. They offer us shelter when we’re locked out… and they’ve even given us Kylie Minogue.
But what does one do when one of them is loud and unruly?
I’ve always been plagued by loud neighbours. When I was a child, we had a bakery next door to our house and come 3 o’clock in the morning, they would start screeching and smashing things about. When I was at university, the girl who lived in the next dorm liked listening to AC/DC… at 2am.
It got even worse when I moved back to Malta. I have had a string of neighbours who just have to air their dirty laundry to everyone. I knew where their husbands left their used underwear and why their children had run away. I have even heard one of them shouting at her teenage son because he had just been caught doing ganga: ‘X’mistħija jsiru jafu l-ġirien li ħadt il-ħaxixa, ja drugat.’ Her sonorous voice was the sole reason I knew about the whole thing…
But, alas, this is how I’ve handled it.
With words: I don’t know who comes up with certain statistics (or how), but research has shown that one in three quarrels between neighbours is solved by talking to them in a calm and composed manner. Thank you so much Research for telling us something we already knew. But, yes. Do speak to your neighbours and ask them to tone it down in a civilised manner. Most will happily oblige.
But: Don’t do it when they’ve just finished having an argument, or when they’re at their own party, half drunk. Make it seem casual and it will flow better. So, don’t knock on their door, but speak to them when you see them; sort of like:
Me: Oh, hi, Joyce! How are you?
Joyce: Insomma, it-tifel reġa’ falla mill-eżamijiet.
Me: That’s nice, dear. It’s nice to see them getting ahead in life. Isma, about that party you had the other day, miskin, my son couldn’t sleep.
Joyce: Iiii, skużani, Evelyn hi. Ma nerġax. Peró… Tiktibx fuqi ta hi fuq l-ijvdotkomdotemtee.
Me: Ma tarax! Thank you, Joyce! Nice dress, by the way.
With slight force: No, I don’t mean physical force, but through words. Everyone makes mistakes and everyone makes noise. God only knows how many times my neighbours heard my ex-husband and I screaming at each other. And I was very glad no one ever said anything! I guess they understood that I wasn’t particularly pleased with the situation either. But if it’s useless noise they’re making – playing loud music before 7am or after 11pm; throwing rowdy parties every other week, banging God-knows-what against every possible surface.. and you have already spoken to them once or twice before, then get forceful.
But: Again, don’t go on the attack. You need to be the bigger person here – unless you want to be labelled a ‘Mandraġġara’ – God, I miss that show… So again, find them somewhere in public and speak to them calmly but forcefully, such as:
Joyce: Aw, Evelyn hi. Kemm tidher għajjiena.
Me: Exhausted… Was that a Zucchero CD that was playing until 1.30am this morning?
Joyce: Iii smajtu? Skużani ta, Evelyn.
Me: Yes … I would appreciate it if you could turn it down next time.
Joyce: Iii mela! Issa ngħid lit-tifel!
Me: Your seven-year-old listens to Zuch… – Never mind… But, yes, please do!
With another neighbour: Some people don’t realise how much noise they’re making, so taking another neighbour who’s being affected with you to speak to them can make a world of difference. Most people can handle being on bad terms with one neighbour, but two? Not really.
But: This time round, go knock on their door. It’s okay to be more assertive now as you’ve given your neighbour time and space to see their wrongdoing – plus, there’s safety in numbers.
Me: Joyce, I can’t take it anymore. Please stop playing loud music and screaming after 11pm. I haven’t been able to sleep properly in over a week!
Other Neighbour: Vera!
Joyce: U ajma! Dawn in-naqra diski.
Me: Le ta, Joyce. Isma’ li trid u meta trid. But, please, lower the volume after 11pm.
Other Neighbour: Vera!
Joyce: Okay, okay. Kif ħtaftuni. Issa ngħid lit-tifel biex ibaxxilu.
Me: U leħnek, Joyce. Tgħajjat wisq, ma nafx kif ma tinħanaqx.
Other Neighbour: Vera!
Joyce: U ajma! X’għaġeb. Mhux ħa ngħajjat, tinkwetawx.
With the police: When you’ve had enough, and you’ve tried reasoning with your neighbour and it’s all come to nothing, and the person is clearly making a lot of loud noises or playing music very loudly many times, then it’s time for the law to intervene.
But: Don’t be arrogant and threaten people. Simply call the police station when the noise is ensuing, and ask them to come and ask your neighbour to keep it down. You don’t need to let your neighbour know it was you.
Although… Seeing as you’ve told them more than once, they’ll probably assume it was you, and they’ll corner you the next time they see you. Scrap that, they’ll wait for you to leave the house and go out to corner you, like:
Joyce: Int! Int! Bgħattli l-pulizija, hux?
Me: X’qed tgħid, Joyce? Għadhom id-9 ta’ filgħodu.
Joyce: Naf li int kont!
Me: So? I had asked you many times to keep it down. I’m sure all the other neighbours hear your loud music and banging and screaming every night, too.
Joyce: Imma int, int biss tasal. Toqgħod tinħeba wara l-laptop, ja mara ħażina.
Me: Ħallejtek, Joyce. Please go scream at your son now, while it’s still daylight.
Joyce: Kieku mhux għax taħdem mal-Ijvdotkomdotemtee … Kemm int qa**a!
And so this happened. Sorry, Joyce, I got you on Ijvdotkomdotemtee and my readers now know how to deal with people like you. Thanks for teaching me a lesson.
Do you agree with Evelyn? Is this how people should deal with their neighbours?
Let us know in the comments section below.