We’re just come to the end of “changeover” season for the rented houses in the street.

The maintenance people have been and gone – my favourite is the oven valeting service – and the landlords have been in with hydrangeas and paint brushes (which isn’t as funny as it sounds).

The new tenants are in next door.

We are now at the “will they be kicking football against the fence?”  and “will they have noisy parties?” stage.

Past experience suggest that the key indicators of  potential anti-social behaviour are maleness, Englishness and social class – the worst neighbours are ex-public schoolboys who are “studying” at Brookes.

Football – kicking a ball against a fence for hours on end – is the trickiest thing to deal with as it depends on asking them to desist, suggesting that they go to the park or the kick-around area 5 minutes up the road and listening unsympathetically to the litany of reasons why this is impossible.

I was once threatened with legal action by a student who’d kicked his ball into my garden for the umpteenth time – they’re very small gardens –  when I told him he couldn’t have it back until the end of term. Next time, I put a hole in it and chucked it in the bin – if you can’t play nicely …

Parties are more straight forward – tolerate if New Year’s Eve, infrequent or not particularly noisy – report to Council if frequent and noisy. It’s persistent thoughtless behaviour that riles me – otherwise, live and let live.

There was once a particularly noisy party further down the street, but the party-holders had popped a note through in advance to say they were having a party ( a double 21st) and what time it would finish, which seemed fair enough.  Unfortunately, they clearly hadn’t factored in the echo chamber effect of the nearby flats.  Still, at least we knew when they were going to switch the music off.

I’ve only contacted the Council once when a bunch of vacation happy students had almost daily get-togethers and the music was playing from 3 in the afternoon to 3 in the morning on weekday nights

So far, there’ve been no signs of football from next door, but the jury’s still out on potential parties. There are now lights in the garden and a full height tent (I think it’s a tent rather than a gazebo), which is being used for bikes, but also has a table and some chairs in it. Whether this portends partying or is merely a glorified bike shed and smoking den remains to be seen.