I used to live in a nice street half full of people aspiring to be posh, in a moderately well-to-do suburb. Some of the upwardly mobile people in that street resented my presence, because I was often seen walking out arm in arm with my then girlfriend, one of our hands occasionally slipping below the other's waist to rest in handy fondling reach (sometimes it just can't be helped, can it?). Of course, that sort of thing makes the people who value their nice, secure and homogeneous neighbourhood annoyed because their small daughters might get ideas about what they're going to do with other girls when they're older, and that subsequently threatens to bring the property values down as well.

I'm not sure how the property values were up in the first place, since half the houses were, frankly, shit. But these people were not to be deterred, since they could afford to do their houses up nicely. Of course, they probably started to seriously despair a few years down the line when people who liked to have parties 'til four in the morning started buying some of the units that went up on a subdivided property. The whole point of living there was that the drunken slob behaviour of students was one suburb over, reducing the people who bought million dollar homes to tears over the vomit in their letter boxes. What idiot actually thinks living right next to a university which houses its students in run-down dumps on the backstreets is a good idea? Well, not to worry. Some of those students never grow out of it. They just graduate, earn some money, and then take their idiotic behaviour out to the nice quiet suburbs all the people wanting to avoid that sort of thing evacuated to.

Anyway, when I moved in it was nice and quiet there... until the weekends. On a given weekend - a nice sunny weekend with no clouds and a light zephyrous breeze, the sort of weekend that would happen all the time if only we could arrange it so that the rain falls during the week - there would invariably be the sound of two-stroke engines revving up followed shortly by the sound of the chainsaw being applied to a tree.

This is usually done with the aim of accomplishing what would be done more quickly with a fascinating and useful piece of technology called a pruning saw. I suppose if the morons had heard of it they would have discarded the notion immediately because they wouldn't be able to figure out how to fill it up with petrol. I do not throw the word morons about lightly. They were not people trying to get something done. Sometimes it was, as the joke goes, people wanting to play with expensive and noisy toys. Sitting on the front doorstep in the sun one morning we witnessed someone over the road bringing a chainsaw out to their front yard to remove a small branch from a tree. A branch that could have been removed in less time with a small hand saw or possibly a pair of secateurs.

It wasn't just the people in the same street. Living partway down a hill it was possible to see and hear people taking down trees quite far away. We could not understand why they wanted to do this, since living on a precarious hillside in danger of crumbling away you'd think people would know better that to take away the things holding the hill together. People here seem to have a pathological hatred of trees. Or possibly just peace and quiet.

Even when the lilting song of the chainsaw wasn't drifting on the breeze from several streets over, it was possible to hear circular saws. Those screeching monsters powered by electricity are possibly the only thing worse. We started speculating that running up and throwing the cable into the path of the saw and electrocuting the owner wasn't actually a crime. No reasonable justice system actually punishes people for fatally stopping a circular saw, right?

To be honest, it wasn't just happening on the weekend. When I first started dating the woman I was conspiring with to lower the property values, our first night at my place was punctuated by the bastard next door doing carpentry at midnight. What an absolute turd. Two or three nights of the week involved late-night sawing. We hoped it was something exciting like a serial killer cutting up victims, because we were having the romantic atmosphere severely dampened. If we were going to have our sex life ruined by someone with a power-tools-at-midnight obsession then we wanted it to be worthwhile. Of course, it wasn't to be. They were just hacking a huge hole in the side of their house for no reason at all.

The whole time I lived there, not one week went by without the sound of some sort of machinery being run within earshot. To put this in perspective: I now live near a major airport and do not hear planes taking off as often as I used to hear outdoors the sounds of chainsaws, jigsaws, circular saws, leaf blowers, lawn mowers, hedge trimmers, scrub cutters, water blasters, angle grinders, power drills, nail guns, sanders of all description...

...come to think of it, there were at least three low-flying jets a week, too! That's right: Living near an airport is quieter than that forsaken suburb. There was one small upside, though. The tiny little silver lining to all the noise was found the day we heard the late-partying neighbours complain about how the noise of all the power saws was amplifying the effects of their hangovers.

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