Alberto took one look at his new neighbours and knew that his life was going to get more difficult. There they were, two of them, as big and as noisy as their car – and smelly and stupid as well.

Do the preparation task first. Then read the story and do the exercises.

Alberto took one look at his new neighbours and knew that his life was going to get more difficult. He watched them arrive in their big, noisy car and watched them get out. There they were, two of them, as big and as noisy as their car – and smelly and stupid as well.

'Terrible!' he thought. 'How am I going to put up with them?' He went to tell Mimi. Mimi was the friend he lived with.

'Have you seen the new neighbours?' he asked her.

'No,' she said. 'Who are they?'

'Two of them. The ones we don’t like. Big and noisy and stupid and smelly. Just like they always are.'

'Oh no,' said Mimi. 'How awful! Still, I suppose we can just ignore them.'

'I suppose you're right,' agreed Alberto. 'We'll just have to ignore them.'

For a few days, then, Alberto and Mimi tried to ignore their new neighbours. When the neighbours went out for a walk, Alberto and Mimi didn't say hello to them. When the neighbours were in their garden, Alberto and Mimi went inside. This was OK for a few days, but, perhaps inevitably, things didn't stay this way …

One day, Alberto woke up from his sleep to find one of the neighbours in his garden. 'Mimi!' he shouted. 'Have you seen this!? He's in our garden!!!! Look!'

'How terrible,' said Mimi. 'Let's call our staff and make sure they get rid of him immediately!'

Mimi went off to call their staff. Two minutes later, Alberto and Mimi's head of staff was out in the garden trying to get rid of the unwelcome neighbour. 'Go on!' he shouted. 'Get out of here! Go home!' The neighbour didn't say anything but gave Alberto and Mimi's head of staff a dirty look, then he went back into his garden. Alberto and Mimi felt better and then asked their head of staff to prepare their lunch for them.

However, it wasn't enough. Over the next few days, Alberto and Mimi often found one or other or both of their new neighbours walking around their own garden. It was terrible. To show how they felt, Alberto and Mimi went into their neighbours' garden at night, when the neighbours were inside, and broke all the flowers.

The next morning one of the neighbours came to talk to Alberto.

'Hey!' he said. 'Hey, you!' Alberto ignored him, but he continued talking. 'You came into our garden last night and broke all the flowers!' Alberto didn't say anything but gave his neighbour a dirty look. 'Now I'm in trouble!' continued his neighbour. 'They think I did it!'

'Who are "they"?' asked Alberto.

'My owners, of course,' replied the neighbour.

'Owners!?' said Alberto. 'You have "owners"?'

'Course we do,' said his neighbour. 'Don't you?'

'Oh, no,' replied Alberto. 'We have staff.'

Alberto went to tell Mimi that the neighbours didn't have staff but owners.

'That's not a surprise,' said Mimi. 'That explains everything. That's why they're so noisy and smelly and stupid. We need to make their owners become staff.'

The next day, Alberto and Mimi were actually very friendly with their new neighbours. They tried to explain how to make their owners become 'staff'.

'Listen,' said Alberto to them. 'It's very easy. First, understand that the house is your house, not theirs.'

'And second,' said Mimi, 'make sure that you are always clean.'

'Make sure they give you food whenever you want!'

'Sit on the newspaper while they are reading it!'

'Sleep as much as possible – on their beds!'

'And finally, try not to bark but to miaow instead.'

But it was no good. The neighbours just didn't understand. After a week, they gave up.

'It's no good,' said Mimi. 'They'll never understand – dogs have owners, cats have staff.'

Chris Rose

Discussion

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Language level

Intermediate: B1

Comments

I love this story. The first time I read it I didn't understand that it's not about people. Great story.

I love the site, it's truly a leaner's point.

I only lose 2 marks. Does that mean my English is at advance level??

Hello Nyunt Maung

That's great! This page is at the B1 level, which is an intermediate level. If you'd like to get an idea of your level, the easiest thing to do is take our level test.

Please note, however, that our test is not official and is made to help you find appropriate materials on our site. After you do the test, I'd suggest you look for content at that level (see the search facility under the level test) and see how you do. If you find it very, very difficult, then use materials at the previous level. Or if it's too easy, move up a level.

For an official level test, I would recommend you check with the British Council in Burma.

Good luck!

All the best

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

This story is about two cats and two dogs in a their neighbourhood. At first reading I was confused because of preparation, I think. I didn't understood and first reading the poent of story. But now I am OK with it. And I agree.. :)) I don't like cats, even a dog, but cats are more intelligent and selfish in good way for them... :)) and really they are first animals who are tamed people a human. :))

At first reading I was confused because of preparation witch is first what am I read. But after second reading I understood that there is a story about two cats and two dogs in their neighbourhood. At least I agree with the points of story.. Cats might be only an first animal who tamed the human raise. Hehehehhe

LOL, Alberto and Mimi were Cats whereas their neighbors were Dogs.I think the Alberto and Mimi were telling their neighbors to behave as cats so as to change their owners to staff.am i right guys?

Hello Sridhar reddy

That's right -- glad you enjoyed the story!

All the best

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

I did get story when read second time. I was really funny.

I liked the story :D

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