Years ago we bought a house - viewed it on the one day it was silent, as it turned out. And I don't exaggerate. We now think the woman who sold us the house (for 25% less than she'd paid for it but as there was a downturn in the housing market at that tme, we didn't think that was odd) probably bribed the alcoholic next door to be out for the day.
From the day (hour probably) we moved in... nightmare. He was an elderly Irish man, whose family had come to England in the 1950s and had a successful business and he was clearly the black sheep of the family. When his behaviour got impossible to live with, they bought this terraced house and left him there. So he was an 'owner occupier' (or rather his family owned the house) and there was nothing we could do to get him out.
He sang, swore and burst into the street screaming abuse (very loud voice, exactly like Ian Paisley) day and night. Once, his drunken pals (all like a load of tramps and in their 50s/60s) smashed down a neighbour's door, thinking it was his. The language and abuse was incredible - no let up. The worst thing was him singing 'Danny Boy' over and over around 2am.
We tried the police, an MP (who happened to be an acquaintance so was totally onside), every agency you could imagine but it turned out we could never have got anywhere as he was a registered alcoholic. The police said they couldn't even section him to give us some respite. We were told he'd been sectioned and gone into rehab more than once in the past but always came home, always got drunk. If we spoke to him he was strangely friendly. And very odd. I was scared he was going to rush out into the street one day with a knife. The police told me they could only arrest him if someone got hurt.
The worst thing was when I saw him and his creepy little mate once looking out their back window and realised they were staring at my kids' bunny in his hutch in the garden. Next day, I looked out of the window and saw the hutch door hanging open - bunny gone. I remembered a story another neighbour told us about the time he'd decided to make money breeding greyhounds and eventually the RSPCA had found several dogs, dead or dying of distemper, in his shed... We reckoned he ate the bunny.
It broke up our marriage eventually - I couldn't take the stress of it; took myself off at weekends. I hated having friends or family round in case they heard it.
This was 14 years ago or so. And one reason why when I got my new neighbours from hell last September, I felt like my life had been turned upside down again.
If that neighbour is a registered alcoholic, I can tell you from bitter experience... you have no chance.