‘Natural noise’: disturbed by loud sex next door? Just imagine it’s birdsong

When a resident complained that her neighbour’s lovemaking kept her awake each night, Manchester city council had an unexpected response

Name: Natural noise.

Age: Hard to say. Since the beginning of time, I suppose. The big bang must have been naturally noisy.

Appearance: Noise that is natural. Stop being so thick.

What are we talking? Birdsong? That would count and people would rather enjoy it, but this natural noise is perhaps less welcome.

Planes, trains, traffic? Some might see it as worse than that.

Dogs barking? That’s irritating, but less embarrassing.

What then? Nocturnal lovemaking.

The old hotel room story? No, this is a resident in Manchester who has complained to the council that her neighbour’s nights of passion are keeping her awake.

Every night? Yes.

I can see that might get on your nerves. “It’s terrible,” says the neighbour. “Before lockdown, it wasn’t really every night. Since lockdown, it’s got worse.”

Well, lockdown has been boring. Most of us have been satisfied with Netflix, or occasionally Scrabble if we are looking to ramp up the excitement.

What does the council say? The complainant claims the council told her that sex is “natural noise”, although it did sent the neighbour two letters. The council says Covid-19 means environmental health officers can’t enter properties to listen in. However, after the complainant contacted the Manchester Evening News, the council sent officers to listen from the street. They couldn’t hear anything, so noise-monitoring equipment is being set up in the complainant’s home.

She could always try earplugs. I can see whose side you’re on in this imbroglio, you sex maniac. The council accepts that natural noise can become a “statutory nuisance”.

A tricky line to draw. Indeed. It should be entertaining when the row reaches the supreme court.

Sex hasn’t been easy in the pandemic. I know what you mean. Romantic assignations have suddenly been curtailed.

What are single people allowed to do? It depends on how tight the restrictions are where they live. In some places, they may be allowed to meet only outdoors – and even then social distancing will still apply.

It could add a certain frisson, in a Dangerous Liaisons kind of way. Frisson will be the word come December.

It’s going to end in … Tiers, yes. I’d rather hoped we could get through without that tired line.

Couples can always bubble. That will certainly add to the sexual excitement, although you can only form a support bubble if both parties live alone. The Manchester case is unclear, with the complainant alleging that her neighbour’s amorato doesn’t live at the property and only visits at night.

There’s no answer to that. “At first I thought: ‘It’s going to stop, maybe she’s got a new boyfriend and the novelty will wear off,’” says the sleepless neighbour. “But it just never ended.”

I feel a tinge of jealousy. Stick to the Scrabble. Think of the excitement of getting orgasm on a triple-word square.

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