There is one certainty about 2019.

By this time next year, there will be more people living in the UK than there are today, just as there are more people in the UK now compared to this time last year.

Forget about immigration. This is the natural result of a healthy birth rate combined with an increased general life expectancy.

The UK is not alone in having a growing population.

Meanwhile, climate change is making parts of the world less and less inhabitable and humans, with no help from the weather, are using wars to do likewise.

Year by year, there are more and more people in the world, trying to live on less and less land. Inevitably we are going to rub up against each other more and more.

Even a perfect society consisting entirely of saints would find it impossible to avoid problems.

As for our society which emphasises the importance of people being free to express their individuality, well, pity the neighbours of a would-be percussionist expressing his individuality by putting in four hours of practice a day.

Time was when most people in York lived in houses, so they had neighbours on the other side of at most two walls if they lived in a terraced house, otherwise they had one set of adjoining neighbours – or none if they lived in a detached house.

But more people means there isn't so much room for one family per bit of land. Now increasingly it's two or more families living on the same bit of land.

The huge Hungate development of multi-storey blocks of flats is one example of how more and more of us are living in flats with neighbours above, below, to the left and right and in some cases, to the back as well.

That's potentially five sets of neighbours that could be irritated by over loud televisions, late night parties, screaming children, barking dogs as well as endless percussion practice and all the other noises of domestic life.

The big temptation is to close our ears to anyone banging on the wall and talk about our homes being our castles where we can do what we like.

Of course, when we are the ones banging on the neighbours' wall, we complain and talk about our rights to a peaceful life.

We are not very good about thinking about other people's rights, such as the rights of our neighbours to entertain their friends in the evening.

It all leads to a more intolerant society.

What to do?

I assume you don't want to live amid uncountable people all banging on their neighbours' walls. I certainly wouldn't.

Let's start with that would-be percussionist. Does he have to practise at home? Could he ask to use the school music department after normal teaching hours - or find a sound-proofed room somewhere?

If he does have to practise at home, could he time it for when the neighbours are out, at work or school?

Likewise, do we have to have our home parties late at night? Or if we insist on entertaining into the small hours, could we timetable the noisy music for earlier in the evening and after 10pm turn the volume down and concentrate on talking rather than dancing?

If we want to give our ears a blasting, do we have to have it at home? Could we not go to a disco or a night club?

As for screaming children, I appreciate that they can be difficult to control. But a child who has been running about the local park or football pitch or spending an hour splashing about in the swimming pool followed by a walk home should be too tired to scream for long. They will also be healthier.

If we want a dog, it's worth thinking about the breed and choosing one that doesn't yap if left alone, one that's suitable for confined lonely urban living.

Our homes may be our castles, but they don't have moats and metre-thick walls.

As the population continues to grow, we can't afford to forget about the neighbours.