Did the lovely, sweet old lady who bothered no one pass away? Was she found in her hallway, one malnourished hand reaching for the door handle? Do you have brand new neighbours – and nice as they seemed to be (when they insisted on introducing themselves that day you were picking up dog shit in your worst pyjamas), could they be part of a death cult? Is your new neighbour a serial killer? Will they one day come knocking for a cup of sugar and ask if you too hear the voices?
Here are five telltale signs.
Solar garden lights
If there’s a tree, it needs a string of lights. The same goes for their gazebo, trampoline and split-level pond until their back garden is lit up like the Las Vegas monorail. Lights that resemble flaming torches – they’ve got 20. If it doesn’t move, it’s crying out for a string of flickering, fit-inducing multicoloured bulbs.
(cf sinister wind chimes)
Who wouldn’t enjoy seeing their new neighbour in budgie smugglers sipping prosecco while his good lady parades around in a one piece? This is the UK, not a villa near an Algarve golf course. At some point, they’ll plant pampas grass – an open signal to every poorly toned pervert in a ten-mile radius.
They won’t draw the line at ‘Live, Laugh, Love’ or ‘We don’t skinny dip, we chunky dip’? It’s not enough to laugh (and laugh and laugh and laugh) about wine being one of their five a day fruits. True sociopaths express themselves by covering each and every surface and wall with dead behind the eyes signs purloined from garden centres or TK Maxx. These are the sort of people who also own a heavily laminated, full-sized photo of Steven Seagal.
Smokeless fuel be damned. Throw petrol onto a bag of damp wood from the Texaco garage and gather round an upturned bin lid to make like Bear Grylls at one with nature, shaded from the elements by a 4×4. These people deserve to die in a house fire.
(cf patio heaters)
Ridiculously large barbecue
We’re not talking supermarket sausages over charcoal. A true serial killer sets up an outdoor kitchen, like a set from Gilligan’s Island. They’ll have a cabinet of cutlery, wine chillers, blankets in case it gets chilly, covered crocks and a Sarah Lee gateau. Aware of the UK’s (notoriously non-existent) nighttime mosquito problem, they’ll surround the area with citronella candles, causing all you consume to taste of lemon toilet cleaner. Your fellow party-goers will include their huge extended family who all drive people-carriers and every other neighbour you already hate and don’t talk to.