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October 1, 2007 | by  | in Opinion |
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Beautiful Noise – Is There Such a Thing?

I sit here on a gorgeous Saturday morning when I should be bursting with energy after my usual three cups of coffee – but for ONE thing. Last night the people next to me decided to have a party. Not a particularly depraved or degenerate party, but when they decided to go out on the deck and serenade me with trumpet at 2.30am, it was the last straw. It was also obvious that there was a couple trying to do something intimate out there, because one of the female party-goers kept shouting “OW! Not there!” I can only pity her incredibly inept partner.

OK, what do you do if your neighbours are having a noisy party, and it is probably a one-off: their once-a-year-after-exams-party or whatever, but they are WAY too loud? The first thing you can do is go and talk to them, if you dare.

I have found, however, that this seldom makes a lot of difference when you are addressing a crowd of drunken yobs who used to be normal people five hours before. They lose all sense of reason and may just say “F**k off, you muppet”, or worse, lunge at you with murder in their eyes. If you are lucky enough to get people who are nicer than usual (or over 40), they may see the error of their ways and turn down the music/fighting/shrieking drunk girl or whatever. But don’t hold your breath…..

If you really need your sleep and just can’t wait four more hours for the party to die down, or you’ve just had a gutsful of the ar**h**es next door who are probably engineers (hey, some of my best friends are engineers) and do this every weekend, you can always call Wellington City Council with a noise complaint. This process can take a little while, but it can be quite effective, especially for serial offenders.

I had this guy who used to wake me up at 8am on every holiday weekend when he was grinding concrete for his garden. If you have ever been woken in this way, it sounds like a dentist with his drill turned on is inside your head, drilling outwards very loudly indeed. I had put up with this guy for a year, but decided that I would not go along with it any longer. At first, I asked him politely to stop – no deal – he thought he had every right to torture all his neighbours in this way.

Then I called the Council, lodged my complaint and got a complaint number, phoned back after 15 minutes to confirm that, yes, the noise was continuing, and then they sent a couple of ‘noise control officers’ out. It takes these guys about 45 minutes to an hour to get there, but they will assess the noise from your property, and if it is excessive, will go and talk to the tranquility vandal. After they did this with my grinding neighbour, there was never a peep out of them, and they never spoke to me again, which was a bonus.

Now, it gets better. If the Goth living in the flat below you seems immune to the noise control officers, and needs his death metal turned up full bore at midnight because “it’s part of who I am”, after three verified complaints, they can confiscate his stereo system. Oh, revenge was to be mine until he was burgled instead and his whole sound system was stolen – funny old world….

But what do you do if it’s the people inside your flat who are causing the problem? It can be, once again, the age-old too loud stereo, but there are other more colourful diversions. I did mention ‘the decibel queen’, a very loud lover of an ex-flatmate, but not the couple who turn up the DVD player really loud so they can’t be heard doing the wild thing. In some cases, just a word to them will suffice, but it is really hard to keep a straight face when you have to say to a person you live with “Look, when you have sex the noise keeps me awake”, or even “you don’t have to turn The Terminator up loud – we already know what you do in there…” If you have someone who is totally immune to your pleas, you can get them blotto before the loud lover comes ‘round, so they are too drunk to do anything, or you could always cut the power cord off their ghetto blaster (when we did this to our flatmate, he didn’t know which of us had done it, so he decided to move out!) Just look outside the square – a solution will always present itself!!!


Coming up on “Renting…” In this year’s last issue of Salient, I will be listing “The Good, The Bad and the Hideously Awful” of student dwellings for the year. If you have a landlord who is lovely or a fascist bastard, I want to hear from you. I will be compiling a list where I name names and addresses, and place blame squarely where it lies. You don’t have to give your name, but you DO have to tell the truth. Any really tall tales probably won’t make it in. This list is to warn people what places NOT to rent when they come back to uni next year. Let’s support each other and be careful out there!

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