The Bloke Upstairs


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The Bloke Upstairs

One bane of living in late twentieth century London is how close we live to people with whom we would choose to have nothing to do with if they weren't living in the same property. Some of us spend a lifetime (and a fortune) in finding the perfect partner to live with yet only 3 inches of brick or an old floorboard separate us from people of whom we know nothing. They could be the devil incarnate, woman beater, page three model, former mental patient or worse still like R&B.;

About a year ago the girl upstairs, whom we shall call Carolyn because that is her name, moved in her boyfriend. It took I Ludicrous a while to realise that this bloke had moved in and it was only when letters began arriving addressed to a Mr J Carpenter that suspicions were confirmed.

John first announced his presence through footsteps on the ceiling. Whereas Caroline padded around the place hardly making a noise, John didn't. He was either flat footed or wore hob-nailed boots for wherever he walked in the flat could be heard. Of course, the other give away was the noise of shagging and here I, Ludicrous had a good result in that John was a sprinter not a marathon runner - were he a horse we mused "he'd never get the trip". So John was not a good lover, he was predictable, used minimal foreplay, and never managed to do it more than once a night. This suited us just fine as our sleep was barely interrupted and as one of us remarked Carolyn often made more noise when she was living on her own. John's initial passion also soon wore off quickly settling for once a week and then he gave up entirely unless drunk.

John and Carolyn settled down into some form of routine. John would get up at 6.00, stomp around for half an hour then leave for work. Carolyn left at quarter to eight - quiet as a mouse - leaving only a foul smell of perfume in the hallway (which sometimes set off our asthma) as a clue to her recent presence. After a while a rusty C Reg Datsun was bought and the sound of a pet was heard running about. The first confirmed sighting of John was a few weeks after moving in. He was late 20s, burly, shapeless haircut and a face that displayed no hint of intelligence. We introduced ourselves - we're funny that way - and tentatively arranged to go for a beer one night with our new house-mate. "Seems alright" was the verdict.

We did meet John in the pub just the once. It was quite a dull evening all round. John had been drinking and had a faraway look in his eyes. Carolyn chatted nervously about Jon Bon Jovi (an old friend of ours) and could we get them tickets for his gig at Milton Keynes Bowl. John was not very talkative, drunk quickly and steadily and left Carolyn to buy the drinks. Despite dogged persistence John played his cards close to his chest revealing little about himself or background. He did let on that he had spent most of working life on building sites but now had a job as technical support for a computer company. The only memorable or bizarre thing John said all night was how much he hated Kidderminster Town Football Club and that their supporters were scum. At the end of the evening we muttered something about going round to a mates to watch Match of the Day and scurried off to the Raj Tandoori.

John moved out a few weeks ago following a series of petty rows. The split-up did not appear to be over anything serious. From what we could gather, it was just a typical relationship that was not working out. For a while they put-up-with-it but in the end the inevitable mutual loathing set-in. The first sign of trouble came when Carolyn was heard to cry "this place is a shithole", followed by 20 minutes of stomping before John was heard to leave crashing the front-door as he went. This was the first time Carolyn's voice had penetrated the floorboards so we gathered it was serious. A week or so later on a Sunday afternoon a row grew out of nothing. The origins were not clear but John bellowed out "I'm reading the paper OK", Caroline screamed something inaudible back, John replied "I said I'm trying to read the fucking paper". Doors slammed, something was thrown. More screams. Silence.

"Do you think he's done her in?", one of us asked. "Let's hope so, maybe we'll be on Crimewatch"

Later that night they made up with a passionate love-making session which lasted longer than usual but not too long. However, the rot had set in and I, Ludicrous were soon engrossed in the soap opera that was happening six foot above us. Carolyn and John were renamed Vera and Jack and if any of the band missed an episode it would be relayed verbatim. "He called her slapper last night and she threw a cup at him", or, "she's gone home to her mum's".

When it came, the denouement was a bit of an anti-climax. One Wednesday morning a minicab arrived and John was seen loading his possessions into the boot. He didn't have much. One suitcase, two black bin liners, a half set of golf-clubs (he kept that quiet) and a cardboard box. His departure took less than 10 minutes and then he was gone. One minute this person was living with us, the next he had vanished never to been seen again.

We learned later from Carolyn that John is currently living in Gillingham with his brother and has a new job as a landscape gardener. Why he hated Kidderminster FC remains a mystery.

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