Mother: I wonder what's going on next door?
I saw a young woman all dressed up in a cocktail dress and high heels
come out of the man next door's house.
I could hear people inside the front door giving her instructions, then she appeared to be hurrying to the pub on a mission, maybe to fetch home the man next door.
Maybe he was being given a surprise birthday party.
Daughter: Yes, I saw the man next door's girlfriend arrive at the house a while ago.
She was all dressed up too, and carrying a big plate of food.
ANOTHER DAY, AFTER THE EXHIBITION OPENING.
Mother: It's a pity the man next door didn't come to your exhibition.
I really thought he would come. He seemed so keen to see it,.... but I think he's away.
Daughter: His friend Phil, from across the road, didn't come either.
Mother: It's good that so many people did come to the opening.
It was all very pleasant, wasn't it, and the paintings and drawings looked great.
It's a lovely gallery.
Phillip, (an old friend from Darkwood) : When I saw the painting of two little girls on one bike, riding away from a military tank emerging from the bush, I thought ... "How cool is that!"
I'd heard you talking about sleeping in the tank room, but I hadn't realised that you actually slept in a tank!
Daughter: No, we didn't sleep in a tank! The tank was just something ominous I dreamt about.
The tank room where we slept was just a big room built under two high water tanks.
Andy (Owner of the Gallery): As usual Joe was at the opening, mostly hanging around the door.
He usually turns up at openings, for the free wine.
Daughter: Yes, we know Joe. He once sold Alpha a stolen bike.
Mum once wrote about him in her blog.
Andy: Joe is really very bright, yet he seems to be a real mess. I think he's schizophrenic.
What's your mother's blog called?
Daughter: I'd better not tell you that.
Anyway, after Joe left I saw him poking around in a little garden bed outside on the footpath, and I heard the clinking of bottles.
Maybe he was retreiving some bottles of wine he stole earlier, and hid there.
Mother: It was wonderful to see all the Key's there, all the way from Kalang and Bellingen, and lots of other friends of ours that we haven't seen for years, particularly Liz, Nickie and Jackie Thompson. It's a pity Dick couldn't come too.
Daughter: Even the lovely family that lives the other side of us came.
Mother: It was so good that Leo came along with Libby and Branco. He's now 6'4", and last time I saw him he was only 4 years old.
There were so many interesting people there, but I'm disappointed that I didn't notice Rex Irwin.
I would love to have spoken to him again.
Andre kept his word and brought along lots of very nice, intelligent, exotic looking people, mostly from Salsa Cafe.
It was really great when Peter arrived, then Genevieve and Godwin.
A man I once used to dance with introduced himself, and he stayed quite a while and talked to lots of people.
I've no idea who some of the people at the opening were, but you seemed to know a lot of them.
Daughter: Yes, there were lots of people I know, but who was that weird, eccentric looking guy wearing a shoulder bag, white jacket and pink scarf ? He looked like some artist, and I thought that maybe I should go and talk to him in case he was someone important.
Mother: I saw you, and other family members, talking to a middle aged man who I didn't recognise.
So I asked him if I knew him, and he said "No".
He turned out to be your rich Buddhist inventor friend Tom, who collects paintings.
I reminded him of the occasion you told me about, when you first met him, at another exhibition.
He had introduced you to the friend he was with, and then they had pointed out to you the paintings they had just bought.
You thought they were just joking, so when they asked you which painting you had bought you pointed to the best, and most expensive painting in the exhibition, and said ..."That one."
Then it turned out that Tom's friend had in fact bought the second best painting in that exhibition, after missing out on the one you said you had bought.
He began trying to persuade you to swap paintings, and when you owned up that you hadn't really bought the one he really wanted he was so disgusted that he walked out, whereas Tom wanted to get to know you better.
Now, at your exhibition, Tom told me that he hadn't actually bought a painting that night, either.
Daughter: He told me one day that he would buy one of my paintings, but so far he hasn't.
Daughter: I was talking to Andy today, and he asked me again about your blog.
I didn't want to tell him, but he got it out of me, and later he said that he had read it.
He doesn't think that he looks like the man next door, and he said that if the man next door finds out about your blog you will have to disappear from this house!
Mother: That's scarey!
ONE EVENING, ABOUT A WEEK LATER, speaking to Andy at the gallery.
Mother: I guess you had a quiet day today.
Andy: No, it was quite busy. Lots of people came through the gallery, including P.J. and his wife, who live in the lane named after your daughter's grandfather. They were here for quite a while.
Do you know who "P.J." would be?
Mother: Yes, it must have been Peter James, with his wife Lynne.
Andy: I read your blog and I thought it was good, and quite funny.
But I don't think I look like the man next door.
(As mother looked at Andy he seemed to be growing taller before her eyes, and it became apparent to her that he is much taller than the man next door. And his face appeared to be quite different too. It seemed that just the striking blue eyes were similar.)
Andy: I used to socialise with the man next door, and the others who drink with him in the courtyard at the pub, but I found that some of them get too argumentative and nasty when they're drunk.
So I don't go there any more, and now I seldom see "the man next door".