A Sober take on Love, Life and London
By Janna Fox
Twas several weeks after Christmas and all through the house nothing did stir not even a mouse…and then buzz buzz. Oh do I have a message? How exciting. Go to check my phone for another text from Firezza. Nothing. That’s odd. I go back to re watching season 5 of Ru Pauls Drag Race. And then it goes again.
I realise that it’s not my phone. It’s hers. Upstairs.
It began with an alarm that actually in my first week here woke me up every morning at 5:45 until I started shoving cotton wool in my ears for makeshift ear plugs (what can I tell you times are hard). It took me about a week to grasp where the noise was coming from following some serious Nancy Drew-ing including putting my un-cotton wooled ear hole to the floor which clearly led me to the fact that the noise was definitely coming from UPSTAIRS. Eventually I got over the alarm, it doesn’t wake me up too much anymore, however there’s nothing more poignant to remind you of your solitary sober existence than the obvious social excitement of someone else’s notifications.
I moved into my single studio in Stoke Newington after my second in three years stop off at my married older sisters four bed semi in Romford (what can I tell you we’re different) when my previous home became incompatible with my new sober lifestyle. I used to live above a pub called The Aeronaut in Acton, it got burned down on New Years Eve, yes New Years Eve 2016, yes I was there up until about two minutes before the fire caught, it turns out 2017 is my lucky year.
The Aeronaut was a rambunctious micro brewing drinking hole with two large gardens and its own circus show that turned into a club filled with irresponsible newly turned 21 tuaca guzzling Actonites and students on a weekend who, it is worth mentioning, were all saved by the remarkable staff of said pub on night of said fire. Go team!
The Aeronaut was loud. It’s the loudest place I’ve ever lived. Not only did my room have three rickety single pane original feature sash windows but it was at the front of the building, directly above the main room of the pub and right on Acton High Street, a frequently used short cut between the Northern Circular and the M4 so imagine juggernauts flying by at 6 am plus on a Friday and Saturday night the music is LOUD until 1am when the bar closed but realistically wouldn’t stop until the staff finished cleaning the bar which really could be any time. While at The Aeronaut it wasn’t unusual for me to strop down at 2am in my bed clothes, storm behind the bar and turn the music OFF without saying a word.
So when looking for somewhere new to live quiet was important and generally speaking my new place is quiet. Stokey is a fairly tranquil area. It’s got a good mix of family, hipster and normal. I can hear birds, foxes, next to no traffic and the building I live in consists of eight single serving studios for singletons like moi. When I first moved in my only worry was that I was moving in above or below someone just like me, well, the former me. Who, you know, had late night visitors staying up until day break with a house music soundtrack consuming things we shouldn’t doing things we shouldn’t, loudly. To be fair I do still occasionally have one late night visitor I can’t seem to shake it’s just that now I do it sober which makes it easier to keep things quieter, but the other girls don’t seem to be partaking in similar activities if you get my drift. At least if they do I can’t hear them so why oh why do I hear the bloody buzz buzz???
I consider if it could be me but surely after living above the loudest pub in Acton and nearly twenty years of working in various late night clubs and bars my hearing should be damaged? If anything I should be struggling to hear the noise not the other way around.
Does she have some sort of giant Trigger Happy TV phone?
Are my ears super sonicly sensitive?Do I have an actual superpower? Will Marvel make their next movie about me ‘Super Hearing Ear Girl and The Phone of Doom’???
Is she doing this to directly attack me? Does she know me? What did I do now??
Ultimately after chasing my mental tail for some time my mind wants to know should I confront it?
I imagine this, going upstairs, knocking on the flimsy door above mine, asking her where exactly she keeps her phone, because (and I’ve thought about this) if it’s on the floor then it makes sense that I can hear it all the time. In this scenario, let’s call it scenario A, she takes me into her room, I see the fold up sofa bed I often hear her getting out around 23:00hrs I am gratified to see it’s blue as I had also predicted and she shows me with dismay that in fact her giant buzzing phone is kept on the floor right above my bed. Bingo! She feels incredibly bad that she has disturbed my peace and quiet especially at 5:45 in the AM and promises to move it and never leave it on the floor again. Amen.
But what if she doesn’t leave it on the floor? Then, scenario B, I’m just a crazy bitch, sorry, a crazy sober bitch who literally has nothing else to do but not only sit at home listening to my neighbours phone going off but actually goes upstairs to investigate the location of where this poor girl leaves her phone in her own flat!?!? Scenario B ends with a call to the landlord and I’m not coming across too well.
Chamomile tea and cotton wool it is then.