Suffering for my art

You know that novel I’ve been writing?

Well, my protagonist is a bit of a hapless character to whom Things Just Happen. The blurb on the back cover would probably begin by listing all the things that go wrong for him despite his best efforts to lead a normal, peaceful life, and the list would end with “And then there’s his neighbour’s unsociable obsession with using power tools in the middle of the night…”. Ah, what fun I’ve had with poor old Will. I’ve wakened him every night with the sound of a drill or a electric chainsaw; I’ve had him using earplugs, trying to arrange his sleep schedule around his neighbour’s DIY hours, and simply screaming into a pillow; I’ve taken him round next door, red-eyed and weary, to negotiate with said neighbour. All of these things have had predictably humorous consequences, and I’ve taken some kind of sick pleasure in making the poor guy’s life a misery for my own amusement, building up an increasingly desperate picture to the point where the deafening noise begins as soon as he lays his head down on the pillow.

Ironically, I now find myself living in an apartment beneath what appears to be an overnight laundry service.

Rrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr! went the Loud Thing on the first night at about 10.30pm. Rrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr! It sounded like there was a washing machine right above my head. It Rrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr!ed for about 40 minutes, then changed to a more urgent and frantic sounding Wheeeeeeee! like a washing machine doing its final spinning thing, and continued for another 10 minutes before stopping so suddenly that the silence almost frightened me, as I thought I might have gone deaf. Ah well. Someone realised that they didn’t have clean clothes for work in the morning. It’s excusable once in a while, right? Unfortunately, half an hour later, the whole process was repeated. And for the entire night, in fact, 40 minutes of Rrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr! followed by 10 minutes of Wheeeeeeee! continued to be broken up with teasing half hour intervals of silence. Regular as clockwork.

I cannot help but feel – in my slightly irrational, sleep-deprived and overly-emotional state – that it is punishment from the Universe for my treatment of Will. Payback, if you like, for my enjoyment of his distress. The landlord’s agents were informed after only two nights of sleeplessness, and to their credit they sent workmen to investigate yesterday morning, suggesting that it might be a fault in the ventilation system or something. Of course, the workmen arrived at 9am, which is when the apartment is generally bathed in blissful silence after a hard night’s Rrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr!ing and Wheeeeeeee!ing. They probably think we are imagining things, or that the Loud Thing is simply a distant hum as opposed to an apartment-vibrating roar. And what more can we do? We don’t speak Estonian: our ability to insist that the problem be resolved is somewhat limited. And so every night at 10.30 comes the inevitable Rrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr!, and we are faced once again with a challenge that is not unlike trying to get to sleep whilst curled up on top of a washing machine. Earplugs help to block it out slightly, but sleep is still not easy. And Riho, who steadfastly refuses to “put things in his ears”, is walking around with circles under his eyes that would put a panda to shame.

I am sorry for what I did to Will. Please make the Loud Thing stop.

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