creative partner: Marika McKennell
Can you hear that? There’s someone scratching outside.
It’s 5am. I’m putting on my slippers, slinking over.
Pressing my sleepy eye to the door.
There’s a person, staring down the viewing hole; bald head, bulging eyes, red face. She looks possessed.
A sleepless night for me won’t do no good to call…
Hello, Camden Council.
My neighbour, she’s screaming all the time, every day it’s getting worse and –
You’ll need to report it to the police.
The police say…
We’ll make a note, but you need to report it to the council.
What can I do? I can’t sleep the fear creeps up my spine. We hear her thrash against the walls. My daughter, she doesn’t want to sleep in her room anymore, she sleeps on the floor beside my bed. I call again, and again.
Hello Camden Council.
I don’t want to seem like a moaning woman but my neighbour…
Oh yeah, The women from the mental institution?
She was moved directly from a mental institution. Does she have a social worker? A support worker? Anyone?
Unfortunately, not. I’ll make a note you’re having problems.
I’m not having problems I’m living in a horror film, and not the funny B movie kind, the terrifying sleepless, bone chilling kind. I stop working it’s affecting me that much. I ring the police and council almost nightly. No one is helping me, or her, they pass responsibility round like drinks at a party.
The system is more crazy than her. What happened in her life for her to be like this? I feel so bad for her, I want to help but I need to protect my family.
We are affected because she is neglected. We are affected because she is neglected.
Then sirens. Police. Ambulance, mental health unit. More police, more police, so many flashing lights
They burst open her door like a bomb.
In her flat there is no mattress. She had no where to sleep and nothing to eat.
The council tell us the wall connecting our flats is structurally too thin.
We wait for them to fix it. Still, we wait. For the bathroom to be fixed we wait
We wait, for the system to be fixed, we wait, for a union we wait, for our voices to be heard, for cladding to be removed, for trades men who don’t show up, we wait and wait and wait…
Council promises us a quiet neighbour, so a new family move in with a toddler.
For peace we wait.