The walls in my palazzo are pretty thin. Sound spreads easily in all directions; privacy is a relative concept. Mr and Mrs Downstairs have screaming rows, usually at 7am. They are tremulous in tone, thunderous in volume, obscenity laden, fruitless in outcome since repeated perhaps 4 days a week along monotonous lines. Mrs Downstairs has a voice largely outside the range of human hearing, whereas her husband has an elephantine bellow, which means that he is all too audible. He likes to shout "Ma che cazzo vuoi? Che cazzo vuoi? MA TU, CHE CAZZO VUOI? CHE VUOI DI ME? CHE CAZZO VUOI DELLA VITA?" Mrs Downstairs tends to respond "MA NON TI VERGOGNI?" before becoming audible only to the labrador which lives on the 5th floor and sometimes pees on the stairs.
Meanwhile on a Sunday morning I get to listen to Mrs Next Door call up all her friends to see who is going to Mass and where. Later, at lunch, I listen to Mrs Next Door scolding her daughters and giving her grandchildren extra portions of lasagne. After lunch, I listen to Mrs Next Door's grandchildren running round her flat kicking things.
All of this is tolerable if irritating.
However in the last ten days a new and wholly unacceptable development has occurred. Someone - perhaps upstairs to the right, in the flat over Mrs Next Door's apartment - has taken to playing music at an audible if not offensive volume. Music itself is no problem. I have long, for instance, been reconciled to the habits of Mr Over the Road, who likes to take half an hour off after lunch to relax with some (very) loud music on his balcony. His music starts between 14.00-14.30 and lasts between 30 and 45 minutes, each week-day. Mr Over the Road's taste incorporates the greatest hits of Kylie, Madonna, Girls Aloud and the Pet Shop Boys. If the combination of this soundtrack with the occasional appearance of Mr Over the Road on said balcony, gyrating topless in the sunshine, have led the neighbourhood to formulate certain hypotheses on his sexuality, there appear to have been no complaints. And I for one now rather miss the interlude when it doesn't happen.
No, the problem with the new development is precisely *what* is being played. Firstly, it is only one song. Played three, four, even five times in a row. A couple of times a day. Treatment which proves wearing, be the piece never so brilliant. And what, you ask, has so offended me?
Here you go. To replicate the effect, I offer it to you in more than one version:
Is it not enough that they fill ever newspaper, every TV show, but that in my own home - in Rome! - they must assault me daily?