To preface. My GF/partner and I are students, both finalizing PhDs before embarking on high flying careers as public intelectuals--like the folks on the news who are interviewed about why bankers have fucked us all. As such a condition, we, despite our future prospects, live on the economic margins--read as below our station and class. I'm not a proponent of a rigid class system by any means, but it's there for a reason, some of which may acutally reflect an evolutionary trajectory...but I digress. This station of near-poverty means that we end up living in a variety of lowish rent sorts of places. The last flat, for instance, over looked a derelect building on the edge of one of the most notorious social housing estates in the city. Convienent for scoring drugs and hookers at any hour, but not so nice to perpetuate a nice, middle class existence. Our current flat, at the outset, is better, least of all becaues our landlord is actually a nice guy: ex-Cambridge, archictect, you know, middle class, like us. Note, our landlord rents out his flat having left for better prospects, elsewhere. This flat has almost all of the right elements: good locale, excellent light--even in the darkness of winter, what it doesn't have is a dish washer, or thick walls. And, it is in a building that is ex-social housing, meaning that some of the flats are owned by individuals, some are rented out by the local government. A combination that leads to a mixed and diverse community where, although values are different, we all share the same space in a loving community friendly environment.
In other words, we don't fit. For instance, the people downstairs booze and do drugs, staying up late with loud music and proceed to beat the hell out of each other the next day--probably something to do with the late nights, booze, drugs and the nasty hangovers these things bring about. They used to be our bad neighbors. Now I'm not so sure. The 'good' neighbors, those next door with whom we share a bedroom wall, and an occasional passing word of solidarity about the bad neighbors, have sliped.
As of last week during a fairly nasty late night early morning split with at least three suicided threats made on the part of the bloke, a nice guy called Len, or Lenny, something to that effect, our peace and peace of mind was shattered. Len no longer has a girlfriend. It's a shame too since she cooked really nice smelling food: pastas, curries etc. I've never eaten it because this is London and the greater distance (as we shall soon see) from the neighbors, the better. It's best not to develop personal relationships when the walls are so thin.
The following, that which has insipired this polemic, occured last night, and represents my shattered peace. We were woken, after a comfortable few hours of precious sleep to another loud argument. I was annoyed because I assumed that the break up had already occured and that there wouldn't be any noise coming from next door for a while...at least not unitl we moved to far greener and more middle class pastures. Oh no. I was wrong, or at least I slipped back into a state of unrestful dozing thinking I was wrong. I found out, after debriefing with my other half that this row was not a make-up/break-up that so many of use are familiar with. Indeed it has a much more sinister, weird and really fucking funny element to it. It goes something like this.
Neighbor (bloke): 'You're a fucking queer!'
Neigbor's 'companion (in a feminized, yet masculine voice): 'no I'm not, I'm a wo--man.'
Either: 'cry' 'sob' 'grrrr!' (yell, yell, yell) 'arrghhh' -- (door slam) (I've condensed what turned out to be thirty mintues of altercation into a few lines for editorial sake. What matters are the first two lines of dialog)
It would seem, that in my neighbor's haste to find a replacement, he seems to have picked up the wrong type (for him) of available person. While there is no evidience of prositution, as of yet, there is a strong liklihood, that what my neighbor thought was a female companion was not...I don't know much about these things. When someone at a party orders a stripper, I'm the first to make an exit. But what I do know, is that if I was to solicit for sex, I would make damn sure that 'she' had the right bits before proceeding to get my freak on. I'm told by those who know that it is actually acceptable practice to manually double check (because it is apparantly quite hard to tell with a visual inspection) before wandering off to a dank room in some dark corner of the third wolrd. Not that I have anything against lady-boys. I believe strongly that it is every person's right to express their gender identity however they feel best suits them as a person. Equally, I believe every human being has the right to earn a living--however it may suit them. I also happen to believe that those outside the norm should at least advertise the fact that they don't quite fit the norm, just to save us 'normal' people the trouble and embarrassment, but really, it's none of my business. What is my business is that because all of this goes on, I don't get any goddamn sleep. And that is a problem.
More broadly, this just speaks to the general bizarrness that life in a big city brings. I'm not even surprised that this happened to my neighbor, really. And I should be. This shouldn't happen; it's not normal, or acceptable. But regardless, in London, this is just derigour for everyday life: sometimes your hooker is okay, other times she turns out to be a he. While I don't judge, I do have to wonder. And unfortunately, since this is all aural, it cannot be shut out by a mere 30degree cone of smugness.
What this reall signals, however, is that, class based economic arguments aside, it's time to move.