We’ve only bloody well done it again. Why do we pick those flats, which at the start seem so perfect, so pleasant, such a step up from the previous one, only to find that once we are settled, with books on the shelves, photos on the wall, and all the light switches found, the neighbours begin to chisel away like an annoying wassup message tone.
Following on from my two blogs about Why housemates are so weird, I thought I’d expand the theme onto the rowdy, boisterous, and even aggressive neighbours we’ve had to put up with over the years. These anecdotes are in chronological, and possibly hate, order.
The Bike Hobbits
First up were the Bike Hobbits. They weren’t your ordinary, friendly, welcoming hobbits, but a family of bike obsessed hobbits. At least I think they were a family, I never saw the mother; it was just the son and father who I had to deal with, or to put better, hide from.
The Bike Hobbits were my neighbours while I lived at the end of the Alameda, back in the day when botellones– street booze parties, were merely frowned upon by the police. Now they are supposedly banned, but I think they must still go on, not that I ever get out to join in on them now. Anyway, the Alameda is known for its mixed range of habitants: students, hippies, families, dog-lovers, and even transvestites. Unfortunately, I chose the only flat with two aggressive, psychopathic hobbits as neighbours.
They seemed normal hobbits to begin with. The dad was a grumpy hobbit, and was fond of growing hair, not in small pots on his balcony, but on his face. If he was a dog he would surely have come top in the Spanish Cruffs competition, but alas he was just a hobbit with a neatly trimmed beard.
The son must have been a professional body building hobbit; either that or his passion was building tree houses in the forest on his own at the weekends. He might have been tiny in height, but he had to turn his muscle-bound body sideways to get out of the main entrance door. Ah the famous door, which was the root of our slight fall out. The following conversations were mostly in Spanish.
“Are you new here?” he said one day as I struggled, yet again, to bolt the main door shut.
“Yes, yes,” I said, trying to calm myself after he’d startled me.
“Well, make sure you lock that bloody door.”
“Oh, don’t worry, that’s what I’m trying to do now.”
“Trying?” he said, barging me out the way. “Look, it’s simple,” he added, as he used his whole weight to slam the bolt across. “The door has to remain locked, or they’ll be trouble, got it?” He pointed towards his collection of pristine bikes leaning on the wall in the hallway. The shiny handle bars gleamed.
“Sure, sure,” I said, offering my hand. “I’m Barry.”
“That’s nice,” he said, unbolting the door so he could leave. I was unaware at the time that the Son hobbit was actually in a good mood, at least he’d tried to help a poor wimpy Englishman. To be honest, he scared the crap out of me, so I made sure I always locked the door, even if it did take a couple of minutes some evenings to wriggle the damn thing shut.
During the next couple of months I’d always say hello to the hobbits. We’d bump into each other now and then in the hallway as they took out their bikes for their long trips through the depths of Sevilla. I’d always smile and nod as I bolted the door. I wouldn’t say we were friends, but we weren’t enemies, until a friend of mine came to stay.
Good old Tim. I often compared Tim to Joe Cole, mainly for his facial similarity, not his football skills. Tim was also an English teacher; he still is in fact, but not in Sevilla. I sometimes wonder whether what happened with the Bike Hobbits scared him away.
“I’m off out,” said Tim, wiping his brow from the intense August heat.
“Where you off to?”
“Dunno; thought I’d go find some strangers to speak to, maybe a couple of old grannies on benches or something.”
“Okay, have fun mate. Girlfriend’s coming round in a bit, so I’ll just stay here.”
“Right you are, if you fancy a beer later let me know.
“Will do. Watch the door on your way out.”
“Of course, we wouldn’t want sergeant hobbit to give us a hiding now, would we?”
But as luck would have it, in the thirty seconds from my front door to the main entrance door, where everyone could see the glorious bikes shining in the corner, Tim forgot to lock the door. I was unaware of this, and was happily watching a film with my girlfriend, when there was a rather loud bang on the door.
“Who’s that?” asked my girlfriend.
“Dunno, just ignore it.”
“Open up,” shouted someone, banging on the door several times. I got up, tiptoed over to the door, and peeked through the peephole. There he was, Son Hobbit, King of Bikelandia, staring through the door as if about to head-butt it down.
“Shit,” I whispered.
“Who is it?”
“A very angry hobbit.” I peered through again; steam was blowing through his nose, misting up the glass in the peephole.
“Open the door, or I’ll smash it down,” he said, banging again. I believed him. I had visions of him biting the door off with his bare teeth.
“What does he want?” asked my girlfriend, who was now beginning to panic.
“Well, he’s not inviting us round for a cuppa,” I said. “I have to open it,” I added, as if in trance. I unlocked the door, kept my full weight behind it, and opened it slightly.
“What did I say about the door?”
“To lock it, I always do.”
“Not now you haven’t. The bloody door is open, and my bikes have been nicked.”
“Nicked? But I have been in all evening, watching a film with my girlfriend.”
“It was his mate,” shouted a voice from downstairs, the Dad hobbit.
“What about your mate?” I thought about Tim, sitting on a bench chatting up an old lady, telling her that he was a famous Chelsea player.
“Oh, he went out ages ago, it couldn’t have been him.”
“I bet it was. You better speak with him, because between you, you both owe me five hundred euros.”
“Eh?” I said, suddenly finding my own aggressive side. “But we lock the door, we always lock the door.”
“Then who was it then?”
“Maybe it was your bearded twat of a dad,” I imagined saying, but I wanted to keep my arms. Instead I just shrugged my shoulders.
“This isn’t over,” he said, smashing his hand on his fist. I smiled a sympathetic smile, and shut the door.
“I’m gonna kill Tim,” I said, returning to my girlfriend, who was curled up in a ball on the sofa. I joined her.
“Was that your neighbour?”
“Well, it certainly wasn’t a carol singer.”
“What are you going to do?”
“Dunno; I’ll have to speak with Tim.”
By the time Tim came back, I was in bed asleep, but luckily he managed to get in the house without getting his face ripped off. The next morning I found out what had happened.