Fiona Duff: Everybody needs good neighbours

Jimmy Page and Robbie Williams in neighbours dispute
Jimmy Page and Robbie Williams in neighbours dispute
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Why is it that so many people end up living next door to people with whom they just cannot get along? And I’m not just talking about us mere mortals wondering who hasn’t put the bins out on the correct day.

Down in London’s Holland Park there’s a right stooshie a-brewing. Robbie Williams has a 42-roomed house in that rather desirable area. Of course, for folk like him, that number of rooms is just quite not enough, so he wants to extend downwards, if you get my meaning. I think it might be called an iceberg extension.

Anyway, living next door is Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page, a man who is not known for his lilting lullabies, I have to add.

However, this man who must be partly responsible for countless headbangers from the 70s now wandering around with hearing aids, is complaining about the noise, so he’s obviously got a top notch bit of equipment in his lug.

This argie bargie has been going on for some time – I am sure there will be a man in the local planning department who can tell you the exact date it started – but this week Robbie said during an interview that Mr Page has begun sneaking around with recording equipment.

It all makes great news copy, but there are many whose lives are made a misery by their neighbours. And to be honest it really must be a living hell when those closest to you, physically, go out of their way to annoy.

It isn’t just noise and parties, but abuse and a sort of terrorism about which the rozzers are rarely able to do anything. In some cases (one reported this week) it escalates into actual violence, GBH and murder.

It’s not clever to behave badly towards your neighbours. Apart from one grumpy man who didn’t like children and so, by connection, me who had produced a couple at the time, I can’t remember anyone giving me grief.

In fact, I have usually been on quite friendly terms – the man upstairs from us is a retired army major and very happy to sign our passport forms, and next door the lady of the house and I have been known to go for dogs walks together.

In the end it’s just the luck of the draw. When selling a house or flat no-one is going to tell you about the horrible people in the neighbourhood. Perhaps when the surveyors come round they should knock on a few doors and check on the response they receive.

So when you walk down the street, smile at those who live nearby and just thank your lucky stars that they aren’t Jimmy Page or Robbie Williams.