Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Thank goodness I'm not dead

Yes, it's the Incorporate an Indy Quote or Slightly Modified Indy Quote meme. Not really a meme just a little game to play.

So, yes. Thank goodness I'm not dead.

Why should I be? You may ask. It has to do with my inconsiderate neighbour, in the flat below, who insists on listening to TV late into the night (specifically, 00:40 on Thursday nights) and preventing me from sleeping. He actually went away for two weeks. It was bliss.

He returned on Sunday evening but didn't do the TV thing.

But last night. Last night.

Last night I was actually drifting off at 11:30pm because his TV wasn't too loud. Then a song came on that he liked, so he turned it up. And left it turned up. Incredible. He did stop at about 00:20 this time which would not have been so bad but for one little thing:

I'm in the last week of preparing the Comedy Central UK website for launch. There's a lot to do, it's not desperate but it will be tight. I need to be able to think clearly during the day. I need sleep.

So I got stressed, I got really really stressed. The noice stopped but I had got so stressed that I still couldn't sleep. It was a vicious circle: every minute that passed worsened the situation because I Had To Sleep. But I couldn't. Until 3:30am.

Reluctantly, today, I decided I needed to do something about it. I had never seen my neighbour. I knew he was male. But nothing more. I needed to confront him and get him to stop it.

You know how it is. You run through a million scenarios, you try to decide what's the best thing to say. Luckily words are something I have some skill with and I'm reasonably good at dealing with people - and I know that the majority of people are decent. But there was always the chance that he wasn't one of the decent ones. There was a chance there would be a bad reaction.

I needed to use the magic words: "Can you help me?" These are the most powerful words on the planet, it is only a tiny minority of people who don't respond to that request.

I planned it out: Arrive at the house. Don't go to my flat because then I'll chicken out. Make it the first thing to do. (I did some reading up on handling this sort of situation, it is recommended you try to handle it when the problem is not happening.) Knock on his door (rather than ring from outside), which will slightly discombobulate him: if I'm knocking directly on his door then I'm either another tenant or a landlord. When he opens the door, introduce myself as the person upstairs and ask for his help.

After that, improvise. But don't be accusative. (Tricky for me, that one, I find the accusatory tone slips out easily.)

So that's what I did. And that's how it played out, action for action, word for word.

To my surprise he was in his 40s, I was expecting 20s-30s, and quite civilised. I explained the problem with me having to get up early. I asked if I was disturbing him at all (apparently not). Then I accepted his excuse ("the walls are really thin" - actually they're not) so he could save face. He said he'd keep the noise down, so I thanked him.

And hugely relieved at not being dead, I came to my room. I hope that handles it.

In other news: the daughter has an audition at Bristol Old Vic tomorrow - journey time over 4 hours one way, for 15 minutes. As previously mentioned this is her number one choice, especially when she found out that some of her favourite actors went there (like Gene Wilder, oh yes).

However something far more important happened for her today. In this audition she has to sing a short song unaccompanied. When the daughter was in Primary School she tried out for the School Choir and the headteacher told her she was not good enough. She was crushed and from that point has never really believed she could sing - only good enough for big choirs. We did pay for her to have some professional singing lessons at one point but they were short-lived for various reasons.

Anyway we had suggested that she get a music teacher at college to give her a lesson just to give her some pointers. She arranged it and finally got the lesson today. She was given some coaching on her breathing which she appreciated - but the teacher also told her that she had a beautiful singing voice!

She's floating. Finally the words of that stupid man, ten years ago, have been erased.

The wife and I are so happy. Next Monday the daughter is in Oxford for another audition and a couple of weeks later at RADA. Both of those involve hours of work, in groups and singly. Bristol Old Vic obviously want to make it just like an audition for an acting job.

And that's the end of the news.

So does any of this have to do with screenwriting - my story about the noise problem can be analysed to see which story elements exist. An exercise for the reader.

What's on the turntable? "The Book" by Sheryl Crow from "Sheryl Crow". Another superb songwriter, in a similar vein to Joni Mitchell, evoking powerful situations where the listener can see the story.


Paul McIntyre said...

I have a similar issue - they seem to creating some kind of Fritzl style series of bunkers in the house next door, which means every morning at 7.15 I'm woken by the sounds of an engine which stays on for two hours. Yesterday was a new experience, a circular saw buzzed violently for the whole morning.

What do I say though?

Adaddinsane said...

"When will you be finished?"