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Sex and the girl upstairs

The woman upstairs' sex life is really quite impressive - or at the very least she seems to find it quite enjoyable. She also has a bit of a penchant for rearranging her furniture. Whether the two are related I don't know, but I do know more about her habits than I care to.

I know her taste in music, roughly what hours she keeps and I know that her partner, when returning from whatever late hours he keeps, empties a bladder of Olympian proportions. I know where the waste pipe from her toilet runs. I know that she does a quite extraordinary amount of laundry. She does not have anybody upstairs from her, so probably doesn't realise how much I know about her, despite never having met her.

I could hardly introduce myself by saying 'Could you cut down the use of you spin dryer at midnight and please scream more quietly in future' could I?

It's hardly her fault anyway. Has nobody heard of sound insulation anymore?

A friend lives in a flat of similar construction concept a five minute walk from mine - all MDF walls and concrete floors - but he can play his hi-fi as loud as he likes and the neighbours know nothing about it. It is only ten years older, so what's happened to construction standards?

It is not just sound insulation. While his window frames are high quality and well fitted mine - well, aren't. The communal front door has had to be adjusted more times than I can count, making the phone entry system redundant, sometimes for weeks on end. What I assume are timer light switches serve no obvious purpose. The lights just stay on until the bulbs blow. The original door lock was fitted without reference to the policies of most major house insurers.

Even the inside of the external walls have MDF where I would expect brieze blocks, but perhaps that's just me being a boring old traditionalist.

And, while you can fit a Renault Laguna in the garage of the houses on the same scheme, it is not immediately obvious how you are supposed to open its doors.

It is not all bad. The space standards are good, with a large living room and it is a true two bedroom flat in a market where most making that claim are really one-plus-box. It's got two loos, which is nice, and apparently the view over the dock commands a £15,000 price premium. It must give Westferry Printers a warm and fuzzy feeling to be object of such affection.

It's just that it could have been so much better and I don't believe it would have eaten too much into the developers margins to make it so.

If it had been my old place in Hackney - brand new, but that didn't stop the snow blowing in under the door - I could have understood. Hackney has a long tradition of jerry-building, and I don't mean German engineering.

No. This is in the midst of the greatest urban regeneration project in Europe, where billions have been invested and many millions more committed; where the planners are finally sorting out the transport infrastructure; where Canary Wharf is built to a 100-year construction standard.

Surely it wouldn't have been too much to spare a few quid to give the woman upstairs a little privacy. Would it?

© 2001 Ian Cundell