international man of mystery

Nigel, the International Man of Mystery in my attic

It’s been a long, long time since I last wrote about Nigel, the International Man of Mystery Next Door, so for the benefit of any new readers, a little bit of background…

Nigel is – or was – our neighbour. Our houses are semi-detached, so we share – or shared – a wall with him. Nigel bought his house about six months after we bought ours, and within about an hour of moving in, he was out there, mowing and weeding and pruning the already immaculate garden. Seriously, he couldn’t even have had time to unpack. “Wow,” we thought, “Dude’s going to totally put us to shame with all this obsessive gardening!”

But we were wrong about that. Because, just a few short months later, Nigel left. And never returned.

OK, that’s not totally true. Nigel DID return to the house next door, but only for minutes at a time, and almost always under cover of darkness. According to this very blog (Which will probably one day become important evidence about… something), the last known sighting of the International Man of Mystery was on February 23rd, 2007. ALMOST THREE YEARS AGO! On that night, he entered the house (“To leave food for the prisoners!” I speculated), banged about a bit (“Probably bricking up bodies in the wall!”) and then left, just a few minutes later. That was the first we’d seen of him in well over a year, and we haven’t seen him since. It works out pretty well for us, to be honest, because other than the fact that his garden now resembles a small jungle, at least we don’t have any neighbours. Well, other than the dead bodies I am periodically convinced he has hidden in there.

The house is still fully furnished (which means that someone is still paying council tax on it). It has not been repossessed, so either the mortgage is being paid, or Nigel owns it outright – which, of course, begs the question: why buy a house you have no intention of living in, renting out, or even maintaining properly? If it was bought as an investment, why go to the trouble of furnishing it, spending a few weeks obsessively tending the garden, and then not bother to even visit it for years, during which the property will surely be losing value due to lack of maintenance? Mail is still delivered for Nigel, although after we stopped accepting parcels addressed to him (circa 2006), it has tailed off significantly. No one ever visits the house for maintenance purposes – or not that we’ve seen, anyway. It’s not like we actually have lives, though, so I’m pretty sure we’d have noticed if someone had been in. It is a mystery.

Current theories:

1. Nigel works for MI5, and the house next door is a “safe house”. We will only find out about this when it is one day blown sky-high, probably with us inside.

2. Nigel is a an arch-villain, involved in some nefarious goings-on, which we will only find out about one day when the house floods and someone is forced to enter it, only to find DEAD BODIES BRICKED UP INSIDE THE WALLS. And then Terry and I will be on the news, as those dumb-ass neighbours who say, “No, we had no idea he was a serial killer! He always seemed like such a nice, quiet man!”

3. That’s pretty much all I got, to be honest. Your suggestions are welcomed, though…

Anyway, because we haven’t seen or heard from Nigel in such a long time, Terry and I had more or less forgotten about him.


Last week I was working in the office, and Terry was downstairs watching TV, or something, when I suddenly became aware of this… noise. I thought it was Rubin’s paws on the wood floors, at first. In fact, I’d keep looking round, expecting to see him there, and then realising that Rubin wasn’t even in the room with me: he was downstairs begging for food from Terry, and probably waiting for the right moment to pee on the washing machine.

Then I realised that the sounds were coming from….

* drum roll *



As creepy as this was, I… more or less forgot about it. I was listening to music through my headphones at the time, and I pretty much managed to convince myself that what I was hearing was either something in the background of the track I was listening to, or was maybe just the radiator cooling down, or heating up or something.

Yeah, I’d be a rubbish detective. This is probably why Scooby Doo never called me back that time.

Anyway. A few nights later, it happened again. This time both Terry and I heard it. We’d just gone to bed, when we started to hear a scratching/shuffling noise IN THE ROOM WITH US.

Well, this time I naturally freaked the hell out.

Terry didn’t. He got up, had a look round, and determined that the noise was coming from the attic, or inside the walls of the house.

“Oh, yeah,” I said. “I totally meant to tell you: someone is living in our attic! I heard them a few nights ago!”

The noises continued for a few minutes, and have been heard several times since, although always in the dead of night.


1. Bats in the belfry, dude!

2. Rats. In the attic.

3. Or possibly squirrels. I really hope it’s squirrels, because, you know, they’re cuter than bats/rats.

(No offence to any bats or rats reading this, by the way.)


1. A vampire

2. NIGEL, International Man of Mystery Next Door

Well, Terry made the trip into the attic last weekend, in a bid to try to find out what, exactly, we were dealing with. His verdict? “Something that chews things, particularly bags of clothes.” Uh-huh. This would SEEM to rule out the possibility of our unwelcome guest being Nigel, IMOMND himself (although you never really know, do you?), but given that we can’t find any access points on OUR property, it does make us wonder if the general state of neglect of the house next door means that it’s now teaming with vermin, dead bodies and the like, which have managed to find their way into OUR property via the attic space.

Either way, we’re calling the council to ask them to come and take a look. If that fails, I’m calling the Famous Five.

P.S. I write a weekly diary which goes out every Friday to my subscribers. Sign up below to get on the list...

I also write books
  • I've just been freaked out right before I have to go to bed, lol. I'm probably going to imagine that I can hear dead bodies in my walls trying to get out and eat me or something like that *shudders* I hope you get to the bottom of this mystery!

    November 25, 2009
  • Nigel! *fangirlscreams*

    I still hold with Nigel being the green dress stealer. It all makes sense, you know.
    .-= Erin Le Clerc´s last blog ..Pretty Vintages loves Frou Frou Designs =-.

    November 25, 2009
  • That has seriously given me the heebie jeebies! I live in a flat and unfortunately the girl next door is always at home, listening to bad music and arguing with her boyfriend – but I suppose that is still preferable to having the possiblity of bodies being bricked inside the wall! We had a real problem with mice in the house I grew up in (there was no way of keeping them out, we lived in the country and my parents are too kind hearted to use anything other than humane traps, as am I) and I can tell you – although they are small, they are NOISY beggars, and they are persistent. I think getting the council in is a good idea.

    You'll have to practice the interviews you'll give to local papers when the bodies are found though… 'Nigel was quiet – a loner, always kept himself to himself'
    .-= Roisin´s last blog ..I never thought I'd have to fire in anger at a dratted caterpillar. =-.

    November 25, 2009
  • I think what you might have there is a cannabis factory. the noise is probably the hydroponics.

    November 25, 2009
  • Cookie


    The famous five are always a good idea.

    And I'd prefer just about anything to rats in the walls.. especially seeing how I'm a rather big Lovecraft fan…and one of his stories is titled Rats in the walls..

    November 25, 2009
  • Steph


    The only other theory I can come up with is maybe Nigel is a time-traveller. The reason he only checks into his house evey once in a while is because he is off fighting Daleks and saving alien planets, and because he travels though time, he isn't even aware that it's been several months since he last went home. Does he tend to show up in a blue police box?

    I was convinced that a serial killer had boarded up a body in the last place I lived when we found a hidden room that had been sealed shut. My sister and I kept calling it The Dead Body Room. At the very least we expected to find hidden pirate treasure or something. When my dad finally broke into it, it was completely empty. On the plus side, no corpses, on the negative side, no hoard of shiny doubloons…

    November 25, 2009
  • Both scary, and odd, and intriging – all at the same time! We had a sealed off room in the attic, was very scary! I am a little easily creeped though…
    .-= Lauren Cooke´s last blog ..The Flexi Crevice Tool… =-.

    November 25, 2009
      • We did open it, it was just an empty creepy room with some boxes full of dull things. I don't understand why there was no door though…

        My scariest dream recently was about a closed off room in a house that I could see people moving around in. Horrid!

        November 25, 2009
  • Andrea


    Maybe one of Nigel's relatives, close friends, etc. fell ill shortly after he moved into the home and he was forced to move in with them to provide care. He wouldn't move the ill person into his house because the person is too fragile to make a move. Since the relative is terminally ill, maybe he figures that he's not going to sell or rent out the house because he wants to move back in once the relative has passed. That's the only reasonable explanation I can provide.

    November 25, 2009
  • Rock Hyrax


    Is it possible that when Nigel was doing all that gardening he was preparing the place for his fiancee who loved nature? But instead of eventually moving in with him she disappeared, and as no trace could be found of her, Nigel was suspected of foul play (which was why the police were looking for him). Having spent the happiest few months of his life in that house, Nigel couldn't bear to sell it but cannot yet face turning up there during the day, as the memories would be overwhelming.

    On the other hand, perhaps "preparing the home for his beautiful wife" was all an act: she had already contracted a mysterious illness during their honeymoon, so while he moved into the marital home (with all her possessions), she was left in hospital. By day he would continue to play the role of devoted husband at her bedside, but nights would be spent searching through her stuff for her priceless diamond necklace. (OK I'm back in Gaslight territory.) Anyway, wife failed to die of the "illness" as planned and he can't risk trying to off her in hospital, so now he's set up a Hoodoo room where he keeps you awake at night performing dark rituals to hasten her demise…

    Then again, it could just be a dormouse preparing to hibernate!

    November 25, 2009
  • Nigel is clearly a vampire. He's Dracula.
    .-= Kristabella´s last blog ..600 =-.

    November 25, 2009
  • I recommend Nancy Drew. She'll definitely get to the bottom it. Also, there is a better chance of a hunky man being involved.
    .-= Amanda Nicole´s last blog ..week two =-.

    November 25, 2009
    • Rock Hyrax


      … or Dr Temperance Brennan (to analyse the body parts under the rose bushes) – even higher chance of hunky man involved…

      November 26, 2009
  • Erik


    I was wondering why that Scottish guy who lives next door who's constantly carrying body sized bags in and out of his unit for three years suddenly left.

    November 25, 2009
  • Wait! I think everybody's missing the important thing here: something ate your clothes! This is bad, very bad. Unless it means you have to go shopping for more clothes. In which case, this is good, very good.

    Be thankful you don't have to deal with possums. One house I lived in backed onto bush and we were overrun with possums. We had a corrugated iron roof and they used to slide down it in the middle of the night. Not like, "oops, I was on top of the roof and I fell down", more like "I'm going to run up this roof and slide down – weeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee- and that was fun so I'm going to do it again. And again. And again."
    .-= Selina´s last blog ..Your daily dose of pretty: this is what I look like today =-.

    November 26, 2009
      • Here in New Zealand possums are a serious pest – they totally destroy native vegetation and there's been quite a lot of money spent on attempting to eradicate them. Plus they may be cute from a distance but when you get up close they have nasty sharp teeth and long claws, and their hindquarters are unbelievably muscular. I've heard some horror stories about family cats and even dogs being mauled by possums. But I've also had friends who have raised orphaned possums as pets and they've been the sweetest wee things. One person's destructive pest is another person's family pet.
        .-= Selina´s last blog ..Your daily dose of pretty: this is what I look like today =-.

        November 26, 2009
  • I'm thinking Nigel died. No living friends/ family, and shit at carrying ID. So he basically became a John Doe, and it's up to you guys to find his John Doe ass and give his grave a name…. no?

    December 1, 2009
      • *boke* I hope you're wrong, but if I was Terry I'd have had the ladders out by now and a good squizz inside all the windows. Not like Nigel's gonna complain, especially if he is actually dead…

        OMG *realisation hits* what if he has actually died in the house 3 YEARS AGO?!!!

        December 1, 2009