When we first moved in Leanne was big into god. On Sunday mornings we could hear the evangelical TV pastor through the walls as we ate our Marmite on toast, Praise Him! Praise Him! Give up your love in Jesus’ name! Then the bass would strike before a devotional kicked in with the full-throated congregation. At that point you would go and do the hoovering and I would get in the shower.
We started to hear Praise Him! midweek evenings too. Just as we sat down to dinner. The pastor got louder and louder and we could hear Leanne’s cavernous voice joining in with the songs. We would laugh and smile for a bit but then it became irritating. Just as it got annoying it would suddenly go quiet, as though she knew she had reached an acceptable limit. Or, perhaps her TV could only take so much before it switched itself off.
One time, a minibus packed with old ladies in bonnets parked up outside. One of them was her mother. I recognised her from when she knocked on the door and asked if we had the spare key. The bus was white with New Vale Baptist Church written across the side in red letters. There was a logo with a little cross and a boat overlapping. The ladies were led off the bus by the driver, some of them needed a hand down the steps. They filed into Leanne’s house. We listened to the rumble of chatter and the clink of china through the brick. Then came the singing, This little light of mine, in slow rounds followed by the obligatory, Praise Him! In His name!
A few months in, once we had done the garden and the days were lighter, we realised that we hadn’t heard the holies for a while. That was when the grinding started. Stuff like Pretty Ricky, R Kelly and M-Dubs, anything to get freaky to. It erupted at 9pm on Fridays and Saturdays and lasted for twenty minutes. We could sometimes hear shouting over the music. Nobody came in or out so we think that she was on the phone. Then, like with the god stuff, it came to an abrupt stop. Leanne’s door would slam and she would disappear down the street. She would look like she was off to have fun, in a mini skirt and with her hair combed out. That was back last year and we have not heard anything for a while.
Until today, when I was in the loft looking for my rucksack. An impressive reggae and dancehall mega-mix shook the rafters. Buju Banton, Beenie Man, Haterz and Marley in rapid fire succession, then silence. It’s a Tuesday afternoon and I’m not sure what to make of it.