I do most of my writing-related work at night. Actually I often work in the lab overnight too. It's quiet, no phones, no visitors, no interruptions. Ideal for concentration but not so ideal for making use of those things that require you to be awake during the day, such as banks.
It's not just because I write tales of gloom and it's hard to get in the mood when the sun is shining and the birds are singing. When the weather is fine there's always a lawnmower running somewhere, then there are delivery vans and other traffic, and the children.
Just along the road is a child who is part banshee. She likes to scream. If she was being flayed alive, not one curtain would twitch in the street. We're all used to hearing her scream now. It's irritating but easily avoided by waiting until after childrens' bedtimes before working. The lawnmowers have all stopped by then too, there are no more deliveries, nobody is phoning or knocking at the door so it's a much more productive time.
It had never occurred to me to complain to anyone about the screaming child. I've never actually seen her, only heard her. This child is heard but not seen. Maybe she really is a banshee.
Yes, it can be annoying especially when she really gets going but it's what children do. They are noisy. I expect I was noisy as a small child too. I didn't notice it but the adults would have, and I do have vague memories of a bellowed 'Shut up' aimed my way once or twice. It is also the summer holidays (soon over, if they aren't already, it's not easy to tell if you don't have kids at school) so the kids are out playing. Can't really complain about something that's natural. It would be as ridiculous as complaining to the council when it rains.
We do have some ridiculous people in the world these days. Not just the one who complained to the council about one, single child playing in his own garden. No, more ridiculous still are those in the council who served a warning on the family, threatened them with monitoring, a possible abatement notice and a fine, empowered the weasel neighbour to keep a diary and record this child playing (a practice that would normally result in a police visit these days) but who then seek to justify their pathetic actions.
A city council spokeswoman insisted the authority has a legal obligation to investigate all complaints.
She said: 'Legally, we have to investigate any noise complaints we receive, regardless of the source of the noise and, in compliance with the law, we informed Mr and Mrs Lansdell a complaint had been received.
That's not what the letter they described sounded like. It sounded pretty threatening.
'An abatement notice has not been served.'
Well, no, not now, but would it have been? These petty officials back down faster than schoolyard bullies faced with the headmaster, but only if they're caught.
This particular child is learning an early lesson. Keep to yourself, mind your own business, don't steal or rob or vandalise and you're a soft target. If he had been setting fire to cars, the council wouldn't have dared approach the family.
It's fast reaching the point where the only way to be safe in this brave new world is to be dangerous. Children are learning this very quickly.