Mother: I went for a walk today, to Broadway Shopping Centre, but it was a wild goose chase because the shopping centre was closed for Easter. I had expected that at least a supermarket would be open.
But who did I see when I was nearly home? .... the man next door, wheeling a bike towards his front door.
Daughter: It's nice that he now rides a bike.
Mother: When I reached the front of his house he was just standing briefly ouside his front door, looking broad shouldered and relaxed, so I took the opportunity to be friendly, and said "Hello".
He turned and smiled, and then I wondered what to say, so I asked how his house is going.
The Man Next Door, (indicating the inside of his house) : There have been changes in plans!
I've now taken up all the front floor, and the joists and bearers, and I'm replacing them all, and putting in new foundations. (He pointed at shaped pieces of concrete that were going to be used.)
(Mother could see that right across the front of the house, including where the hallway used to be, floor level is now the ground itself, and chairs and other furniture, and a jumble of other things, now sit on bare earth.)
The Man Next Door: Some people have suggested that I should make a new concrete floor at the level of the ground, but I don't like the idea of being lower down than street level, and having to look up at people when I open the front door.
Excuse the smell of cats. Cats come in through my high windows, and now they go to the toilet in the dirt floor.
Haven't you heard the cats on the roof?
Mother: Yes, I've heard them rushing around on the roof, chasing birds, scratching as they hang on with their claws, but I haven't got to the window in time to see any cats.
One day my daughter heard the same noise, and saw birds chasing a big brushtail possom on the roof, till it climbed your chimney, and disappeared down inside.
The Man Next Door: Really!
Yesterday a cat came in my open upstairs window and walked straight towards me.
It carried itself in such an aggressive, macho way, that I thought...
"Is this cat going to attack me?"..... "It's only a cat!"
Then it walked straight past me, and down the stairs, and it went to the toilet in the earth front floor.
(The man next door began pushing his bike over the door step, so mother quickly took the remaining opportunity to comment that he had missed Daughter's exhibition.)
The Man Next Door: Yes,....I've been away.
I came back once, planning to see the exhibition, but it was raining at the only time I could go, and my girlfriend didn't want to go out on bikes in the rain. So we didn't go.
My mate from across the road is a great fan of your daughter's paintings.
I believe he drove the van bringing paintings back to your house.
A COUPLE OF WEEKS LATER.
Mother: It's been very quiet in next door lately.
Some nights I notice the upstairs bedroom light on, and when I crossed the road on my way home tonight I heard talking, coming from inside the man next door's open front door.
I could hear the voice of a woman who sounded drunk, and the man next door was talking gently to her.
Mother: Thanks for hanging out my washing.
It wasn't finished when I left this morning and I forgot to ask you to hang it out.
Daughter: Did you put your washing in with Alex's, or did he put his washing in with yours?
Mother: Oh! ....I saw some washing in the machine and I emptied the dry washing out of the clothes basket so I could put the finished washing in there.
In my haste I must have forgotten to take the finished washing out, before putting my washing in.
Daughter: When I looked in the washing machine I wondered whose washing was in there.
I saw your tops and funny fluffy blue and white sox, but I also saw Alex's jeans and tops, and his undies and your's all mixed up together, so I just pulled everything out in one go because Alex's jeans, and everything else, were all tied up in your pairs of panty hose, as if there was an octopus in there too, with it's legs entwined around everything.
Goodness knows what Alex thought, when he went to hang out his clothes!
(Alex is the young Chilean student who moved into the house, when Pierre left, to return to Germany.)