The housewarming

The residents of Lilac Avenue had been waiting for quite some time to find out who was finally moving in to number 42. Especially me, as I lived next-door at number 40. Well the waiting was over.

As if the nosy neighbours hadn't been curious enough, Brian definitely made an entrance nobody would forget. I mean, what kind of 40-year-old man drives a pink Mini? Ha! It makes me laugh now just thinking about that fantastic little car cruising down the street, and Brian's pensive face behind the wheel trying to spot his house, and Brian's hands gripping the furry, flowery purple steering wheel cover!

Then there was the music: "Do a little dance… make a little love… get down tonight! Get down tonight!" blasting from the windows! Everyone stopped what they were doing and just stared! And this guys not a bit bothered!

"You think he's gay?" My Dad said with one eyebrow raised as he watched our new neighbour unload his suitcases and drag them in through the front door.

"Go give him a hand Gary!" My mum nagged, elbowing Dad forward across the grass towards no. 42. Brian seemed glad to have some help. Crouched by a large leather case he looked up, flicked his mid-length, sandy brown hair out of his eyes and gave dad a HUGE smile.

"Oh cheers mate!" He grinned, "Thanks a lot. Oh I'm Brian by the way." He stood up to offer a handshake, revealing that he was a tall man, of average but sufficient build. He wore lose fitting jeans and a grey and pale yellow striped jumper; in fact he was looking pretty funky for a 40-year old. So my Dad shook his hand and welcomed him to the Avenue.

"I'm Gary." He said.

"Aw, he seems a nice chap!" Mum said going back into the house. I followed her into the kitchen and made us a fruit smoothie.

Dad returned about an hour later, we waited for his verdict, straw in mouth.

"He's not gay."

Me and Mum both made a 'surprised' face and then a 'tell me more' face –

"He's got a fiancée. Says she's not arriving 'til tomorrow. He seems a nice chap." Me and Mum nodded thoughtfully and slurped our milkshake.

So that was it, Brian was accepted. He got straight to work making our acquaintance and invited us over for 'drinks' that night – obviously not realising I was underage, but I forgave him. I remember looking forward to meeting him – he seemed so interesting, I liked him before I even knew him. And after I knew him I liked him even better!

We rang the doorbell at number 42 at 7.30pm and Brian quickly answered. That was the first time we met.

"Alright Brian?" Dad greeted him, "This is my wife, Gillian, and my daughter, Rachel." Dad pointed in our direction - as if Brian wouldn't be able to tell who was who. He shook hands with each of us in turn:

"Hello Gillian, Hello Rachel… come on in!" he smiled.

He dazzled us with his friendly conversation as we drank (lemonade for me of course!) and laughed. He seemed to be enjoying us too, which was nice.

"D'you know," he said at one point, "I'm really glad I've moved in here now I know I've got such nice neighbours!" Mum and dad did the whole modest 'oh-come-now-we're-not-that-great' sort of thing.

"At my last place," he continued, "They were all a bunch of grumpy old buggers! No honestly!" he protested as we laughed at him, "They wouldn't even bother to smile at you round there – but I'm sure I did enough smiling to make up for all of them!" He laughed.

We felt totally comfortable, even in the mess that was his living room at the time: two rugs on the floor, a coffee table and a T.V! We left for home that evening in total agreement that he was indeed, a very nice chap.

Tomorrow soon became today and another arrival in the Avenue. Scarlet. Her entrance wasn't quite as exciting, as she pulled up in a taxi at no.40. Yes, our house. I answered the door to find an unbelievably blonde woman wearing what could only be described as a dead polar bear. She opened her heavily lip-sticked mouth in puzzlement before she spoke:

"Ah… have I got the right place here? I'm supposed to be moving in today?" Two waves of realisation hit me, first that she was moving next-door, and then second that she was Brian's wife-to-be! I stood silent for a moment.

"Ah, yes! I mean no! Well nearly, you want to be next-door! Number 42 I think yes?"

"Probably." She said tapping her highly heeled foot and craning her neck back to look at the next house along. She was one of those women who wore make-up to make herself look younger, and only succeeded in making herself 10 years older. She looked at least 50.

"You'll be Brian's fiancée then are you?" I said, realising my question sounded a little blunt and a bit rude. She gave me a slightly distasteful look and made a 'Mmm' kind of noise before clopping off down the driveway and up the next, her nose in the air. Not even a goodbye or a thank you. What a woman. What a woman to be Brian's wife!

I went back into the living room.

"What a woman!" My Dad said spying out of the window horrified.

"She's Brian's…"

"I know," he interrupted, "I was listening!"

"Dad!" I scorned

"Gary!" Mum scorned from the kitchen

"Hang on," said Dad, "Who's eavesdropping on who here?" We laughed.

Dad soon forgot about Brian's unlikely lady, as did Mum - even more quickly seeing as she'd only been eavesdropping on dad who'd been eavesdropping on me who was the only one to have actually spoken to her. It was for this reason I presumed, that I could not forget her so easily.

I found myself thinking about Brian as I lay in bed that night. What on earth was he doing marrying such an odd woman? Odd for him anyway – or not odd enough whichever way you look at it. I had the feeling we wouldn't be accepting her as readily as we had done him. Ooh I shuddered just to think of that poor guy putting up with that snobby lady for the rest of his life. But, each to his own I suppose.