Constant hammering I can deal with. Constant drilling, I can take. Even constant hammering and drilling would be bearable. But what I found I wasn't up to was sporadic outbursts of one or more of these, accompanied by the Magic 105.4 undercurrent. It was the sudden stopping. The sudden starting. The Horror....
If I'm in a club or a stadium, I'm happy to have my music loud, but at home I keep it to a relatively low level. Louder than the ex-Mrs Zip would have had it, but reasonable nevertheless. But it occurred to me today that the only way to deal with the Workmen's Cacophony from next door was to put something on the sound system and crank up the volume HIGH.
And lo, it worked. With the help of a lot of volume, Rabih Abou-Khalil, Down to the Bone, and Natacha Atlas successfully drowned out Lucy Smooth's Concerto of Noise.
But what then can you do in an atmosphere of Noise & Counternoise? Certainly not your 2003/2004 accounts, I soon discovered, or your mum's (no doubt doomed to failure) claim for Pension Credit.
Sitting with a cup of tea, I tried to get some constructive thoughts going in my head.
Not just any tea, of course, but Themis Koslanda Ceylon Black Tea (Organic & Fairtrade) with Guarana and Acerola. Ceylon tea is "traditionally used to boost mental alertness." The Amazon Indians consume Guarana "for its invigorating properties." Acerola, "to help give you an extra zing." I bought it in a short-dated stock sale at a health food store in Newcastle, along with some (non-apricot) yoghurt and a bag of green lentils.
Now fortified with mental alertness, my properties invigorated and with an indefinable extra zing, I climbed onto one of my mental roundabouts, brought on by considering the work of Mary Lloyd Jones.
It's a constant source of puzzlement for me: how to bring to the urban subject matter of my own work, the concerns of people like Mary Lloyd Jones and Derek Hyatt. Somewhere in here there's a crossover into the literary work of Peter Ackroyd and Iain Sinclair, but I haven't found it yet.
I went over my badly-conceived Mind Map showing connections between facades, plumbing, maps, doors & keys, books, masks, clocks, Mr Punch, magicians, fairgrounds, existentialism, decay and rust. And you know what? I was none the wiser.
By the end of the day, I felt like I was slowly circling a black hole of a headache.
Only a tin of mulligatawny soup has saved me from immeasurable personal pain.