Nothing makes you want to move out of your home more than noisy neighbours.
For most of us our home is our sanctuary and it can be irritating when the still night air is shattered by loud music and drunken laughter.
There are, however, times when you have to be understanding and realise people also need to live their lives without some wowser down the road complaining every five minutes. It always amuses me when people who live next to a sports stadium that has been there for years complain about the noise from a rugby game or rock concert. I always wonder why they bought the house in the first place.
Hawke's Bay Today's front page story yesterday was about local thrash metal band Heterodox who have come up against noise control policies in Havelock North.
The band says they are practising for important performances at Napier's Cabana, but now are constantly under threat of being unplugged.
The rules set out by Hastings District Council (and probably other councils) state if they receive a complaint, a noise control officer will go to the address and make an assessment. If the noise is deemed to interfere with the "peace, comfort and convenience of any person", an excessive noise notice will be issued. If another complaint is received within three days of that notice - and if it is excessive - then police will be informed and equipment confiscated.
That sounds fair enough to me.
The band says complaints were made at 6.30pm and 8pm (when they had finished practising) on different days. The band also says their closest next-door neighbour told them she could not hear the noise over her TV. They also say they put sound boards over the window after the first complaint.
Now, I am not a fan of thrash metal by any stretch of the imagination. I probably could not even identify it in a line-up of noisy iPods, but I presume it is very loud.
The danger we face is that we could become a society that complains about everything. Sometimes one needs to step back and become a bit more community-minded.
I remember a few years ago a young lady and her mother came to my door and informed my family she was having a 21st party the next night. She apologised in advance for the noise, gave us her telephone number and said the party would finish soon after midnight.
The next night was very noisy and the party went on until about midnight, but I, and the other neighbours, did not feel inclined to complain because the young lady had been so nice and polite in informing us.
I think that is the approach one has to take with big events like a wedding or a 21st birthday party. As long as guests are not breaking into your house or getting ill all over your garden, you can tolerate some noise for a decent period of time.
The same applies to neighbourhood noise in the afternoon or evening. It is all part of life and one should only get upset if people don't care and are unreasonable in their noise-making.
We have to realise that if we want to live in urban areas, we need to respect each other. That means keeping the noise down late at night or early in the morning. It also means learning to give people some leeway to have a good time.