Magazine article The Spectator

Real Life: Melissa Kite

Magazine article The Spectator

Real Life: Melissa Kite

Article excerpt

The gloves are off in my battle with the two brothers who live in the flat upstairs. They have just socked me a brutal left hook. And so no more am I going to be the neurotic, menopausal fruitcake downstairs. From now on I am going to unleash my difficult side.

It's a shame, because when they first moved in I thought they were going to be the neighbours I had always dreamed of: handsome and polite, with a look of dread in their eyes whenever I banged on their door. When I explained that the wheelie bin must be put out at right angles to the kerb at 8 p.m. sharp on Wednesday night, they did it. When I told them they had better not clank about in high heels they said they wouldn't.

One of them in particular I liked a lot, the one with a quiff like Tintin, who said 'ha ha ha oh yes ha ha' to whatever I suggested. But the other, more slickly coiffured brother always stood silent and glowering behind him and was clearly biding his time.

Within months, a notice appeared on a lamppost revealing in tiny print that the brothers planned a vaulted kitchen ceiling with roof lights. I knocked on their door and said it might have been nice if they'd told me first, but no matter. They'd have to get up earlier to get a vaulted ceiling past me. I had looked at the plans and seen that they involved removing my water tank from the loft space.

Perched on my couch, the brothers begged me to see sense. Clearly, I should allow them to dispense with the tank and mains live my flat without updating my plumbing to withstand the increased water pressure, which would cost them too much. I told them I would refuse such a half job unto the gates of hell and beyond if necessary.

My favourite brother said 'ha ha ha oh yes ha ha'. But the other brother was silent, and glowered.

A few months later, they had a bathroom fitted which began to leak through the ceiling of my bathroom. The chap who did it came round to account for himself following my complaints, whistling cheerfully and asking what I planned to do for the weekend. 'Have a few bevvies, eh? Oh that? Sure that's just a bitta water swimmin' round the old system there. Nothin' to be worried about. It'll soon stop. Just a bit of an old drip. …

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