Radio 1 and a whiff of fag smoke: five signs builders are nearby

THERE’S increased activity near your home, and you suspect that it may be an infestation of builders. These are the signs: 

Radio 1

What is that irritating burbling in your ears, and why does it keep asking you to text in? Not tinnitus, but the distant clatter of post-Yewtree Radio 1 emanating from a plaster-crusted digital radio. The chart-topping sounds are audible over the shrill whines of angle-grinders and percussive hammer drills, however much you wish they weren’t.

Local businesses flourishing

Nothing supports local commerce more than a gang of builders. The newsagent will confirm that turnover has tripled, with sales of pasties, scratch-cards, and tabloid newspapers through the roof. Pub landlords and takeaway owners will concur. Astonishingly, they feel this is a good thing.

Neighbours gossiping

Your neighbours are not ones to congregate, but now form into knots on street corners sharing information about the house with the skip outside, alive with speculation as to what Satanic renovation or extension could be causing this unforgivable inconvenience. It will be agreed whoever it is must have earned the money immorally.

Vans everywhere

Dirty Ford Transits and a flatbed full of scaffolding parked on the pavement with a ‘no pies are left in this vehicle overnight’ sticker on the back? The spoor of builders. If the dashboard is two feet deep in crisp packets, oversized mugs and spirit levels there can be no doubt. Be patient and you may see one bend over to expose his arse cleavage.

Drifts of cigarette smoke

Confirmation of building activity comes with the detection of the faint aroma of burning tobacco. Following the trail will lead you to an area where men in hi-viz cluster with mugs of tea and cans of Monster indulge in othering, marginalising behaviour termed ‘banter’, before dropping cigarette ends into a can of Monster whether it is finished or not. Observe from a safe distance.

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Which washed-up celebrity will be turning on your town's Christmas lights?

BIG festive lights switch-on tonight? Find out which reluctant C-lister you’ll get doing the honours:

Does your town have a population of over 200,000?

Yes – you live in a town with sufficient density of population to afford an actual celebrity. Whether it’s a 00s pop star who’s been on Strictly, a Coronation Street actor or a Drag Race finalist, they’ve turned up for a relatively modest fee and you’ll turn up because they’re off the telly.

Is your town known for tourism? 

Yes – even the smallest town, if it has pretty views or a food festival, can attract a celebrity hoping that livestreaming their performance will win them ironic kudos and an appearance on a quiz show. Derrick Evans, better known as Mr Motivator to anyone who was up early enough between 1993-2000, will force you through an aerobic routine in drizzle.

Do you have a local celebrity?

Yes – it’s the season of goodwill, so they’re morally obligated to turn out. Unfortunately you live in Stoke-on-Trent where friend-of-Robbie-Williams Jonathan Wilkes is here to remind everyone that he once went on tour with Robbie, still enjoys Zoom calls with Robbie on a bimonthly basis, and is in the local pantomime.

Is your town predominantly working class?

Yes – regretfully, turning the lights on in your rundown former mining community, known nationally only for its high rates of deprivation and regular appearances on Can’t Pay? We’ll Take It Away, would tarnish the brand of even the most minor celebrity. You have a girl from the area who appeared on auditions for Britain’s Got Talent in 2017.

Has nobody ever heard of your town? 

Yes – even those living ten miles away struggle to place you on a map. You are essentially a crossroads with an Aldi. No celebrity has ever come from or even passed through your town, which would be termed a village if it wasn’t too shit. You will either have the chair of the Rotary Club dressed as Shrek or the Lord Mayor again.