Two elderly ‘neighbours from hell’, Malcolm and Maureen Rowbotham, have today been issued with the country’s first Overly Social Behaviour Order (OSBO) by Kingston Magistrate’s Court. This effectively bans the couple, 72 and 68, from acknowledging the existence of their neighbours in the Norbiton area.
The trouble began last October, shortly after moving into the area from Huddersfield, when PC Nick Kemp had to issue Malcolm Rowbotham with a caution for wilful chatting in a middle class area. Kemp told reporters that Rowbotham compounded the offence by failing to display the disdain and righteous indignation expected of a Surrey resident.
‘Instead, he displayed what I can only describe as a genuine concern that he may have unwittingly upset someone,’ Kemp said. ‘Unfortunately, there was insufficient evidence for us to prosecute at the time.’
During the Rowbotham’s three-month reign of annoyance, the pair allegely maintained eye contact while travelling on public transport, whistled in a cheerful manner and failed to erect net curtains. Magistrates were finally forced to act when an attempted grievous bodily handshake was reported.
‘These three months of living beside these people has been a jolly nuisance,’ said next door neighbour, Candida Farquarson. ‘Within minutes of moving in, they were haranguing us on our doorstep with their cheery introductions and invitations for us to ‘pop round anytime for a cup of tea’. It was excruciatingly embarrassing.’
Another neighbour, part-time lecturer Dennis Jackson revealed that Mrs Rowbotham had once walked straight up to him while he was putting the bins out and told him about her husband’s hernia operation.
‘We never experienced any problems like this before,’ added Jackson’s wife Muriel. ‘We lived happily next door to Mr and Mrs Mills for over 25 years without ever being told their first names.’