Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Silence! I kill You!

I live in a ground floor place, with two sets of neighbours living upstairs.  They have windows that overlook my yards.  This means that I overhear them regularly - whether it is the clattering of plates and cutlery, videogames being played, or their arguing - I hear it all.

It seems like a particular family from upstairs likes to argue a lot.  There tend to be very loud fights involving yelling, doors slamming, wailing and swearing.

I'm not sure which neighbours cause all the noisy drama - however I will be looking forward to annoy them with Creature's crying at the most awkward times of the day and night.  Having said that, I know I will have to deal with them at some point in time - for two reasons.

Reason number 1 
They are noisy. Too noisy. They have a habit of being noisy on their way down and up the  stairs - of continuing conversations with any departing guests as said guests stomp down the stairs.  And they yell - a lot.  This means that I will likely be cursing the day they were born on a regular basis whenever they screw up my efforts to put Creature to sleep.

How does one deal with such a situation without causing epic drama?
I am not entirely sure.  Especially since I have no idea what my upstairs neighbours look like.  I mind my own business.  The only idea I've come up with so far is to write them a letter and stick it to their door, perhaps.  This would count for both sets of neighbours.  Or stick it by their letterboxes,  To show them it is nothing personal.

The issues I can think of with the above plan is - What if they have horrible English and don't understand the letter? Or even worse, they can't read? Should I write it in Maltese or English?  Or both?

I asked my faithful friend Google for some ideas.  This is what I found:

  • A newspaper article dated September 2011 saying that the procedures to follow to take action re:noise pollution in Malta are being reviewed.
  • A Facebook page for a non-profit organisation called Noise Abatement Society of Malta, with very little info and a link to a website that to date doesn't work.
  • A link to the Maltese Ministry of Justice & Home Affairs website which was fruitless when it comes to the laws affecting Neighbourhood Noise Pollution.
  • Various websites all advising the same thing - speak to your neighbours and/or write them a letter, and if they don't cooperate, speak to the relevant authorities and.or their landlord, if they happen to be tenants.
This pretty much means that at this point in time, I will have to wit and see what happens.  Eventually I may need to write that letter, and see what happens.  If the worst comes to pass, I suppose I could always move houses once my tenancy agreement expires.

Reason number 2
Not only are they loud, but their arguing often features the same 2 or 3 swearwords.  I'm no saint, I admit it.  I do swear frequently in everyday life - however I refrain from doing so around young children, my parents and elder relatives, and in circumstances where it is highly inappropriate - such as at work.

I know it will be a struggle to regulate myself around Creature - however the last thing I want is to be a bad influence.  In the English language, swearing is extremely mild in comparison to the Maltese language.  It tends to be the case that whenever a foreigner is around Maltese people, the first words s/he is taught are swearwords - sometimes with the wrong explanation as to what they mean being given, to produce a comical effect.

Youtube is full of videos of young children using swearwords, usually with a parent in hysterics with laughter echoing in the background.  As entertaining as it may be, children have a habit of saying the least appropriate things at the most awkward moments.  Laughing at their using foul language will only encourage them, as children are willing to do anything to please people around them - especially parents.  Getting pissed off at them for swearing, on the other hand, will equip your child with a weapon to use against you when they want to anger you. It might seem like a lost cause either way you react - however it really doesn't need to be.  All you'd need to do is to explain to the children why you don't appreciate that kind of language without throwing a guilt trip in their lap.

You might think I am rushing way ahead of myself - but in truth I'm not.  Even in utero, Baby is listening to the sound of your voice.  Once born, babies tend to listen and absorb information - especially things that are repeated over and over again, long before they actually say they first word.

I can regulate more or less my swearing by using awesome expressions such as "Fiddlesticks!", instead of "Fuck!" - or do like Homer did [clicky here for the Italian version, and here for the English one] and I can walk away from people who are swearing their head off in public places if need be.  I cannot however walk away from the neighbours and their loud swearing - especially since it happens on a regular basis.

This means that once that letter is written, I'll have to put an emphasis on the fact that I don't appreciate them teaching my child how to swear from such a young age and that I was hoping the swearing is something s/he would discover in their teenage years from music, literature, TV and their peers.

Hopefully, it won't lead to the neighbours climbing down the drain and pooping in my sink as retaliation.

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