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John Masterson: 'Lose your temper, lose the argument and lose respect'

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I once spent a very unpleasant half hour curled up in bed after midnight listening to a domestic dispute next door. Many houses are not well sound-proofed but the couple were long past caring whether anyone could hear or not. I was not in my own house so I did not know the people. It was unsettling, even frightening. There was shouting and cursing and a lot of noise. It never entered my head to call the police. Nor did I bang on the wall. Somehow, I felt that this would run its course and that no one would get hurt. And so it did. While there was loss of control, they were not totally out of control. There were limits. I was once told by an employee in a large institution that no matter how bad a fight was the television would never be broken! The argument next door fizzled out. I have no idea if they did not speak for days or made mad passionate love. The walls were not that thin.

I wonder would I react in the same way today? Would I call the police? I think I would be a lot more likely to now than a decade ago. And not just because I am more in need of a good night's sleep these days. But would I knock on the door myself? Probably not. Would my behaviour be any different if I knew one of the people shouting was a senior public figure? Would I take out my phone and record the fracas? I suspect not.


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