Almost everyone has a dream. From having a fancy car or a well-paid job to being the best in the world at what you do, dreams – like people – come in all shapes and sizes. Not only that, but from the time we’re old enough to think for ourselves, through our teen years and into adulthood, we’re always told to never be afraid to go after those dreams. Practically every Disney movie ever has drilled that message so deep into our brains it’s second nature now.
Some people never get to realize their dreams, of course. Maybe the dreams are too complex, difficult, or just plain unrealistic, but some go through life with their desires remaining a mere fantasy. As a knee-jerk reaction, we might feel bad for them, because that’s what society has taught us to think. But what about the lucky few who do get to realize their dreams? Sometimes, just sometimes, they end up wishing they never had.
The dream apartment, or so it seemed
For 31-year-old London resident Lydia Scott and her boyfriend Tristan the dream was simple – find a nice, affordable place to live in the British capital, where housing prices are some of the world’s highest.
At first, that dream sounded as far-fetched as being part of a mission to Mars, but the young couple was persistent. They wouldn’t give up, and kept looking. Finally, they hit paydirt. They couldn’t believe their luck – they found the apartment of their dreams! On their very first night there, however, that dream became a nightmare.
Too good to be true?
Lydia and Tristan’s new place was a one-bedroom apartment in Stoke Newington, northeastern London. Rent was £1,300, or $1,680, a month, with them splitting it right down the middle. It even had a balcony and everything. The place, and price point, just seemed too perfect.
“When we first looked round I thought it seemed too good to be true,” Lydia recounted. As is often the case in such scenarios, if it seems too good to be true, it probably is. Regardless, at that point the couple was none the wiser, and were ecstatic to get their keys. Moving in all of their stuff, it was their first night in their new apartment. Then… then the noise began.
The first sign of trouble
That very first night, Lydia and Tristan heard clattering and banging coming from the upstairs apartment. After ruling out the possibility that the place was haunted, they eventually realized what was causing all that racket. Their upstairs neighbors, it turned out, had no less than eleven children. Eleven! Remember the early scenes in Home Alone when the entire McCallister family was still around?
So imagine that, only twice as bad. “We heard thumping and running about upstairs,” Lydia described. “It sounded like someone was moving furniture around too.” Whether late-night furniture moving was taking place or not was anyone’s guess, but one thing was an absolute certainty – Lydia and Tristan weren’t about to get any sleep in the foreseeable future.
A ruckus until 1am
You might be thinking that for 1,680 bucks a month, Lydia and Tristan deserve a decent night’s sleep, at the very least. The phrase “Be careful what you wish for, because you just might get it” has never been truer, however. They wanted a nice place to live, and unwind from their busy workdays, but instead got a prolonged nightmare and not a moment’s peace.
Lydia, who’s a charity worker, gets home every day at around 6pm. Magically, that’s also about the time the noise starts. With eleven kids having a grand old time just above her head, neither she nor her boyfriend get a second of quiet. The noise is unbearable, and sometimes lasts until 1am.
Trying to reason with the neighbors
Of course, Lydia and Tristan have tried talking to the kids’ parents. In all actuality, they were even extremely nice and tried to be helpful. They were “really nice,” Lydia said, but very little has actually changed since they spoke.
They did ask the parents to keep their children from running around just above the spot where the couple’s bedroom is, and that has made things a little better. The dad even gave Lydia his number so she could text her when it “gets too out of hand.” He was really nice about, she said, but at the end of the day, they had eleven children. “It’s going to be noisy no matter what,” she said in exasperation.
Going through a tough time
Even more tragically, Lydia badly needed a win at that point in her life. This new apartment was the first place she and her boyfriend had moved into together, and her mother had passed away from cancer only months prior.
Still coping with her mom’s untimely death, she found not being able to relax at home to be making things even harder. It wasn’t any easier when she was still alive, either, with Lydia splitting her time between caring for her ailing mother and living in her nightmarish apartment.
Reaching a decision
Finally, Lydia and Tristan had had enough. They couldn’t stand spending another moment in that apartment, but they had a lease in place that runs through May, 2019. Still, they’d reached a decision – they’ll be leaving as soon as it runs out.
However, finding another place to live in London, which is not only pricey but extremely crowded, is a gargantuan task. It takes tons of both time and energy, and with everything that has happened to her over the past six months, Lydia wasn’t sure she could face it.
No other choice
Whether she was up to it or not was almost irrelevant, as she couldn’t stomach the thought of renewing the lease on a place that was so uninhabitable. It wasn’t even the never-ending noise at that point, but the extremely negative emotions that Lydia would now forever associate with it.
She was all the more heartbroken she was forced to leave because the apartment was pretty much perfect in any other respect. Heck, it was even more expensive than the London average for a one-room property!
A delicate position
Leaving was probably Lydia and Tristan’s only option. Staying there for any longer with nothing changing was unspeakable. The upstairs parents were very apologetic and tried to accommodate the couple as best they could, but they could only do so much to keep eleven small children in line.
They were stuck between the proverbial rock and a hard place. They couldn’t stand the noise anymore, but didn’t want to spoil their relationship with their neighbors by bringing the authorities into it for any possible violations of noise ordinances.
Making a bad situation worse
The fact that the children’s parents were so understanding and even remorseful, oddly enough, only seemed to make things worse. Whenever most people are in a bad situation, casting someone else as the “villain” of the story often helps them cope.
If we have someone else to blame for our troubles, after all, it takes a mental load off of our backs. The parents being so nice about the whole thing robbed Lydia and Tristan of even that – the tiniest bit of satisfaction found in being resentful at them.
The very real dangers of noise
Constant, nonstop noise sounds pretty bad all on its own, but persistent noise pollution actually comes with some very real, very serious dangers. It affects not just quality of life, which is pretty obvious, but also the very health of the people who suffer from constant exposure to it.
Persistent noises higher than 60 decibels, for example, can cause things like high blood pressure, elevated cholesterol levels, and even heart attacks. It also had less tangible effects, like causing nervousness and anxiety, and exacerbating emotional instability, moodiness, and argumentativeness.
Commenters chime in
Comments to the story have mostly showed sympathy to the couple’s plight, with many sharing horror stories of their own regarding living with far fewer than eleven children above.
“I’m through with living in (apartments) and can barely live in a house,” one commenter wrote. “I need a remote island but with a few shops on it.” Another urged him to “not forget the pub” – this is England, after all! Interestingly, though, some chose to focus on the fact Lydia and Tristan were paying so much for their place.
How it can still work
If we could tell the parents of the eleven children anything… well, first we’d ask why anyone needs so many children. But the second thing we’d do is give them tips about better managing the little beasts.
The first rule of raising that many children is giving them each a task. The responsibility will keep them occupied while preparing them for adulthood as well. It’s also crucial to designate play areas, so they don’t run amok all over the house – and over the neighbors’ bedroom!
A comedy goldmine
Even though Lydia found very little comedy in her situation, similar predicaments have been mined for comedy for decades. We’ve mentioned Home Alone, which is actually less about having multiple kids and more about extremely bad parents.
Other than that, most shows and films about that many children have involved blended families, from 1990s sitcom Step by Step to 2005 romantic comedy Yours, Mine & Ours, although we don’t recommend watching that one – it’s awful. Still, we can hope they too will end up looking back and laughing one day.
Count their blessings
If you think eleven children are a lot, just be thankful you were never the downstairs neighbor of Genghis Khan. This Mongolian warlord founded the Mongol Empire – at the time, the largest empire on Earth. He was equally famous for siring an unreasonably large number of children.
Conservative estimates have placed the number at 1,000, but others say it was closer to 2,000, from as many as 3,000 wives. To put that into perspective, genetic analysis has shown that Khan was an ancestor of 0.5 percent of the world’s population!
Willing to compromise
What was so disappointing about the situation Lydia and Tristan found themselves in was that they weren’t some spoiled, picky brats. In fact, they were well aware that to live in a city like London, compromises would be inevitable.
“If you want to find somewhere nice in London,” Lydia affirmed, “there’s always going to be a compromise.” There would always be something that isn’t “quite right” with the place, she added. It just so happened that what was wrong with her new place was the army of children living upstairs.
No one told them
They were both fine with making some kind of compromise. It’s just that they never imagined they’d have to choose between living in a nice place and ever getting a moment’s peace again!
That was just the thing – neither Tristan nor Lydia had been told of the large family upstairs. In fact, Lydia said even her landlord claimed she had no idea. Whether that’s true or not we won’t guess, but one thing is clear – if they had known, at least they would’ve been able to make an informed decision.
Knowing when to let go
It was with an extremely heavy heart that Lydia and Tristan made the decision to leave. They jumped headlong into this experience together, and were desperately praying that it’d work. Unfortunately, it was now painfully apparent that it wasn’t going to.
It took no small amount of courage on their part. Many people would choose to stubbornly stay there, possibly launching all-out war against the neighbors. Lydia and Tristan, though, were just letting go, and hoping that they’ll be able to find a good place to live – and soon.
Loving the area
The decision to leave was made that much harder by the fact that they’d fallen in love not just with the apartment, but with the area in general. Lydia confessed that she loved Stoke Newington, and its abundance of pubs and restaurants.
She also loved the mix of people – from cool young people to established families. As for the apartment, she loved the fact it had a balcony overlooking greenery. She couldn’t wait for summer, when everyone comes out to their own balconies. But now, that would never happen…
A dream lies broken
Their one-room apartment in Stoke Newington was the first time Tristan and Lydia had ever lived together. Before moving in with her boyfriend, Lydia rented a place in the London borough of Dalston, where she lived with five other people.
Needless to say, this wasn’t how they thought their first shared living experience would go. Moving in, they thought the apartment was too good to be true. Now, on the cusp of moving out, they found out that it indeed was.
Why do bad things happen to good people?
Lydia and Tristan’s tale of woe raises the age-old question – why do bad things happen to good people? Lydia works part-time as a pet sitter, as she watches over London’s many pets while their owners are out.
In her other job, she works for Tommy’s Charity, Britain’s leading nonprofit in promoting the health and wellbeing of babies, and is helping organize the 2019 London Landmarks Half Marathon. Tristan also works for a charity. With all the good that they do in the world, you’d think they’d be owed a break.
That’s one way of dealing with the noise
It appears that Lydia and Tristan’s neighbors should consider themselves very lucky if the story of one Russian woman is any indication. In October, 2018, Russian news outlets reported that the woman, from the southern town of Budyonnovsk, simply couldn’t take her neighbors’ noise anymore.
Children were not involved this time, but it was rather their passion for renovating. After yet another brutal fight with them, this time about drilling in a wall, the 53-year-old had had enough. If they couldn’t be quiet aboveground, they’d do it six feet under.
A creative solution
She had just the solution for her problems in mind – hire a hitman to take them all out. Luckily, local police caught wind of her plan, and had her speak to an undercover cop posing as a gun-for-hire.
“You have to finish all of them off,” she told him in a hidden camera video, sure that they’d come after her otherwise. When the cop said he’d only take out the parents, and not their children, she said it wasn’t enough. After paying the operative, she was promptly arrested.