Thump-thump, thump-thump, thump-thump. That's the sound I've heard in the early mornings for the past six months or so as the toddler who lives in the apartment above me runs around his wooden-floored home, his little feet drumming overhead.
To be honest, in a relatively small apartment block where the sound of silence is largely the order of the day, it irritated me. Not enough to complain but in my settled and solitary existence certainly enough to raise my hackles on occasion.
For the past week, however, I have welcomed that sound. Have taken pleasure in it. Have lain in my bed in the early morning and actually smiled as the telltale thumping began.
Good morning, it says to me. It's another day. We're all still here. And you're not alone.
We don't 'do' apartment living particularly well in this country. Viewed in the life cycle as a place where you either start off or end up, an apartment has never really been regarded, in general, as a 'proper' home. Whatever that is supposed to be.
I've lived in my apartment - my first ever - for almost eight years now and I love it. But I've always envied the way in which other Europeans so fervently embrace apartment living, the way the centre of Paris or Rome or Madrid is full of people of all ages living high above the heart of their city.
Years ago, I recall seeing an elderly lady at her top-floor window in Venice beckoning to the greengrocer in his stall down in the square beneath her and then, with her neighbour at the next building along gesticulating and offering advice from her own high vantage point, I watched as the signora lowered a wicker basket, ever so slowly, right down to ground level.
The greengrocer then filled it with the freshest of his produce and up went the basket again, accompanied every inch of the way by the neighbour's shouted instructions. Community living, and neighbourhood spirit at its best.
Which is precisely what we've seen across Europe during this current crisis. Apartment windows flung open while Italians sing together. A ping-pong match conducted from one window to the next. And Spaniards joining together on their apartment balconies at an agreed time every day to applaud their medical workers.
What a wonderful sense of community and solidarity. People living in apartments, unable to meet or to touch, but still, despite everything, willing and able to communicate, to sing, to smile and to wave to each other.
How different an experience from that of people locked away in houses, down driveways or at some far remove from their nearest neighbours.
Many people live alone in apartments - as I do. But with neighbours above and beside us we are never truly solitary. As I write this I can see my immediate neighbour tending to her plants. Earlier, having a cup of tea outside on my own garden-level terrace, I received a cheery wave from the top floor. Was I OK, that neighbour wanted to know. And wasn't Netflix the best invention ever!
Locked away from the world, it's up to us to rise to the occasion. And so now, in these difficult days, we have the chance to reflect on what our home actually means to us in this strange new world of ours.
So what's it to be, then? Prison or sanctuary? Comfort-zone or cage? Only you can decide.
As for me, I can hear it already - the thump-thump on my ceiling tomorrow, heralding the dawn of a new day. Making me smile and telling me, in personal terms, that despite everything, comfort is only ever a footfall away.