On noise and nudity

On Friday, my half-naked neighbour graduated to being full-on naked. While I’m not a fan of my eyes being assaulted by a swaying, sagging, dimply arse, I do have bigger problems with the guy.

As I’ve mentioned before, he’s an opera singer. Or opera student. Whatever. All I know is that it entails him singing sporadically, at the top of his voice, from early in the morning until late in the evening most days. I’m as much of a music lover as the next person, but I do need peace and quiet while I work (or nap).

Maybe if he’d mixed it up with a bit of Johnny Cash, I could have stood it, but it was wall-to-wall opera. Opera, opera, opera. I was going out of my mind. Sorting him out had been on my to-do list for quite a while, but I wasn’t sure how to go about it.

German organisation

The helpful, and often fabulously entertaining, “Free Advice Berlin” Facebook page came to my rescue. On this page, people can post pretty much anything they like in the hope that a kind soul will help them out. Questions have included everything from people looking for unusual products or cool bars, where to neuter a cat or buy a TV, help with moving flat, and even a Russian asking someone to explain feminism to him. (Good luck with that last one.)

The post that caught my eye, however, was by a musician. He explained that he wants to study sound engineering and plays around 13 instruments, including the drums, which he practises at home. Amazingly, he was getting noise complaints from the neighbours…

People were quick to comment on this one and, luckily for me, this being Germany, there are RULES about this sort of thing. It turns out that you can’t actually practise an instrument (voice included) for more than two hours a day. I downloaded the “Merkblatt zur Hausmusik” that someone posted, which contains scary terms like “Gemäß § 5 des Landes-Immissionsschutzgesetzes” and “Einschlägige Gerichtsentscheidungen”. I wasn’t entirely sure what they meant, but I figured you probably wouldn’t want to mess with that stuff.

Fun with German words...
Fun with German words…

A quick perusal through my rental agreement backed up the general Berlin rules with more specific house rules.

Take that!
Take that!

Ah, lovely German rules.

After a night filled with bad dreams about jiggly, naked opera singers, I was rudely awakened on Saturday morning at 9.30am by the man himself. I repeat, 9.30 AM on a SATURDAY. This was war.

WAR I tell ya!
WAR, I tell ya!

But instead of banging down his door like the fighting Irish woman that I am, I opted for the more civilised German approach. This involved me sitting at my laptop in a fury, with extreme bed hair and fluffy pajamas, and hammering out a “pleasant” letter to my neighbour, “politely” asking him to stop with all of the fucking singing because he was driving me fucking mad disrupting my work and my sleep.

I printed out the letter and the Merkblatt and, after making myself slightly less mental looking, popped them both into his letter box.

And now I wait. I guess there’s a good chance an angry, half-naked opera singer will show up on my doorstep. If that does happen, rather than resorting to fisticuffs, I’m hoping we can have a good old-fashioned sing-off. Throw in a couple of beers and a bit of Schlager and that would seem to be the most German way to handle things…



88 thoughts on “On noise and nudity”

  1. Oh gosh, can’t envy you for this pleasant neighbour… Please post updates on how the war is proceeding!!! (btw as a greeting from the strange country you so charmingly described in another blog/life 🙂
    I have lovely Latvian neighbours and, obviously, Latvians are quite selective when it comes to rules (a few favourite approaches being “invent them”, “dismiss them”, “follow any bloody procedure as if your life depends on it” – don’t ask me how they choose the protocol in each separate case). I live in an apartment building and 2 of the apartments (one just behind my wall, the other a floor below mine, but not directly beneath me) changed their owners recently. First the ones below me engaged in the charming affair of “redecorating” their premises. This meant some guy coming every single bloody weekend and drilling, hammering and doing whatever noisy work you can imagine from September to the beginning of December from 9 a.m. sharp! On bloody weekends! And it was not just noise. It was bloody-tear-your-head-apart-and-splash-whatever’s-insite-all-over-the-place noise. Now, the same is happening just behind the wall. Ok, this guy is a bit more discreet and usually starts drilling (or whatever he does) around 10 a.m., however I still find it immoral on weekends. AND – the bad news are, it’s not in Riga. I’ve discovered a nice ruling issued by Riga municipality, which basically prohibits any noisy works in ridiculous hours, moreover, you need to get a permit for such works from the municipality. But I’ve had no luck finding an equivalently nice little ruling that the municipality of the bourg in question has issued (they probably haven’t thought of that at all).
    Well, the good news are – at least nobody’s walking around naked!
    Phew… I hope you’re not bored to death yet by the story or sick of just being reminded of this place (that would be a shame as you have quite a nice crowd of people eagerly following your adventures in Germany). At least I’m a bit relieved just by sharing the burden 🙂
    Keep posting! And don’t forget to update on your “war” with the naked crazy opera singer!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ha, I actually never had any problems with my neighbours in Latvia (that I can remember). They were eerily silent, never spoke in the hallway and that was about it 😉 Yours sound far more adventurous! As for my opera singer, he’s silent right now 😉 I sent a message to the landlord and got zero response so the war might be over before it’s begun!


  2. Ha! Love the photo of you armed to the teeth. Scary. Yeah most cities have noise rules. Ha! When I drove a fuel tanker we had a few inner city stations where we had to be done by 11 pm. We had gotten 3 tickets at one particular station that was so small we could only deliver after they closed and they closed at 10 pm. I went in there at 10:15 pm one cold February night and there was a police car parked at the cross street watching the station. There was a 1900’s restored home that abutted the station property and it was close – we had to come within 6 inches of the house when pulling in and we were about 4 feet away when delivering. The tanker I drove was 80 feet long (two trailers) and held 58,000 liters of gas – it was big. I had been having starting problems all night and had to leave the truck running while I delivered. The station was only taking 5,000 liters so it was only about 15 minutes from arrival to departure. A few minutes in I heard this voice calling over the motor sounds: “Young Man! Young Man!” I turned around and there was an elderly woman of about 90 bundled up in a fur coat and standing on the front porch of the house. I greeted her and she continued: “You know according to city bylaws 18-427 section a) you cannot be here after 11 pm? That nice policeman has told me he will make sure you are gone.” I replied: “That’s fine ma’am I’ll be done by 10:30.” Then she continued:” Under the Liquid Fuels Transportation Act section 5 subsection 17 you cannot have that truck running while you deliver.” She was right and I wanted to change the subject so I asked:” Ma’am I do some of the driver hiring and teaching the regulations is a hard part of the job. Since you already know the regulations so well,would you like a job driving a fuel tanker?” She was quite pleased with that comment and she smiled while responding:” You can’t fool me young man and don’t you forget it.” At which point she disappeared into the house. I finished up and left without a ticket.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. This guy sounds absolutely delightful! Since he’s clearly flouting ze Mighty Rules of Order for a minute or two, I’m very curious to hear if there’s any answer to your letter. If not, how about pranking him? For example, when you know he’s alone, singing and strutting his naked stuff around the house, how about ordering him a couple of pizzas from different places? Or request a visit from the Berlin chapter of Jehovah’s Witnesses? Just a few ideas that sprang to mind…
    Fight fire with fire. Or pizzas. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ha ha! Well, he put up a notice on his door saying that he needs to practise for at least 3 hours a day and thank you for understanding. I DO NOT UNDERSTAND. Thinking about my next steps – pizza might come in handy, but as fuel for my plotting, not for him 😉


  4. I need an update! I’ve had issues with neighbors as well, even here where we live in detached houses. What always gets me is, why isn’t anyone else complaining???? Surely you can’t be the only person disturbed by his “singing” (and lack of attire). When I lived in an apartment building, I once left a note for some bad boys that if they didn’t shut up and turn down the music, I would notify the building manager. Their merrymaking was so raucous (they were young men living on their own for the first time) that I developed insomnia and had to beg my doctor to give me 5 sleeping pills so I could get my routine back. That first night, after I had left the note under their door and took my first sleeping pill, I awoke to one of the little bastards screaming, “You bitch!” up through my floor. I smiled, turned over and went back to sleep. They moved out soon after 😉 Even though we’ve had similar problems even living in a detached house, I don’t think I could ever lived in an apartment building again … I’m highly sensitive to noise. I would go insane.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think I’m becoming more and more noise sensitive in my old age! But this really is intolerable. Yesterday, he posted a sign on his door saying that he has to practise at least 3 hours a day and asking for understanding. He said that he would only practise from 10-11 and 5-7pm, Monday to Friday. He’s already broken his own rule twice and it’s only Tuesday. Debating what to do about it. I would hate to have to make it official but the law really is on my side here and I just can’t listen to it any more! GAH!
      Your little punks sound far worse though – at least they moved out in the end! Probably to torture some other poor souls with their ‘music’ 😉

      Liked by 1 person

      1. His singing must disturb other people. And if he has to practice, perhaps he should find a studio to practice at or have his walls soundproofed. If his lease says the same as yours, then he really has no grounds on which to make his own rules. My heart goes out to you. Hell is living in an apartment building with noisy neighbors!

        Liked by 1 person

        1. I know! He sounded like a dying swan yesterday – I recorded it. Only a deaf person could listen to that for 3 hours a day. I can’t see any reason why his contract would be different. And he didn’t say anything about it in his notice. We have a basement he could practice in, or you can rent space in Berlin for around €3 an hour. Plenty of options. His/my flat is not one 😉

          Liked by 1 person

          1. I had somewhat of a saga with my neighbours…so far I have sent them junk mail and played the drum in the hall way (only a tiny bit)
            and stopped sort of playing a sex noise CD on repeat at full volume while I was on holiday!
            in my defence they cost us £2000 and months of stress…

            Liked by 1 person

              1. hehehe awesome!

                It was all sorted finally…it is the perils of having a stay at home horse looker-afrter-er with too much time on their hands as a neighbour while doing a (perfectly legal) loft conversion!

                Liked by 1 person

                1. Bah hahah! Grrr, he’s just posted a notice on his door saying that he needs to practise for a minimum of 3 hours a day… WE HAVE RULES FOR A REASON!


                2. No one likes glitter when it spills unexpectedly out of an envelope and gets into everything…
                  Especially (I would think) if you have a habit of being naked…
                  I think it would probably scare the horse too!

                  Liked by 1 person

          2. ” …he needs to practise for a minimum of 3 hours a day …”
            Even German professional musicians guess that their noise is totally acceptable because it’s for breadwinning. These guys are totally wrong.
            Tell your Radaubruder how rude these “damned German laws” are. And if your building has a “Hausordnung”, show him the corresponding section.
            If this is of no avail, escalate to the next level: Inform your landlord, show him your polite correspondence and demand the elimination of the deficiencies.
            If that still does not help, more escalation will be required.
            P.S.: Hasn’t your building a cellar where he can bawl out his lung?

            Liked by 1 person

  5. So funny. Around here you can make all the noise you want (sad to say) but you’d be arrested for being naked. My question is–what do the Germans do if a dog barks continuously on Sunday? And pays no attention to the rental agreement?

    Liked by 1 person

        1. Very regimented dogs we have here 😉 In Berlin, nobody has their dog on a leash and they stop at the traffic lights by themselves, look back at the owner and wait for them to catch up haha!

          Liked by 1 person

    1. Still alive 🙂 No madmen banging on the door yet, though I’ve yet to check my mail today – maybe he’s come up with some sort of reply instead… Not a peep out of him today. Maybe he’s sitting quietly rocking on his bed in the dark, singing sad opera songs to himself – in his head 😉

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Maybe the noise- problem is solved?!
        What marvellous effects a polite but insistent communication can result.
        And nudity … imagine he is a enchanted prince showing his diamonds 😎


  6. I hope he doesn’t forget the super-stillness required on Karfreitag/Good Friday. There’s even a Tanzverbot – ban on dancing! Theaters may have performances, but they have to be somber ones. If he does sing – even for the allowed 2 hours – on Karfreitag he needs to sing dirges and such. If he sings happily, nail him again with another law-breaking notice. Looking forward to the update!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh man, this is gold! I had no idea about this – I was just happy the pubs are open, unlike Ireland haha! A Tanzverbot – it’s like living in Footloose town 🙂 I’ll make sure he’s sufficiently dirge-y! 🙂


    2. If the cantore sings performances pleasing to God like Gregorian chants, Bach’s cantatas or Mozart’s motets, Miss O’Grady must suffer. 👿


  7. Public nudity isn’t a criminal but only an administrative offence. At least in Berlin, without the presence of children no one will avenge this immorality.
    But Ruhestörung is much more serious! If this Radaubruder ignores your polite hint, its business of your landlord to jam his obtrusive organ. 😈
    Or you can decline your rent. But if this is desperately necessary, a Mieterverein should be consulted.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Nudity becomes to exhibitionism (§ 183 Abs. 1 StGB) if the naked one wants sexual satisfaction. Hard to prove, even with witnesses. 😛
        It’s hard to elude noise, it’s hard to elude smell but it isn’t really hard to elude eye contact with inappropriate body parts (except tits, ass and camel toe). 😳

        Liked by 1 person

          1. So many harsh words full of ignorance. A little bit, I feel sorry for this Asian gentleman. He comes to Berlin to study the wonderful German opera and exercise his chant. All this marvellous inspirations beacon him to another glorious German brainchild: the Freikörperkultur!
            “Wir sind nackt und sagen Du” 🙄


            1. If he’s willing to come all the way to Berlin, he can travel a bit further and find a studio to practise in, like a professional. You can rent places from around €3 an hour in Berlin. No excuse.


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