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Alberto's new neighbours

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.

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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



Nivel de idioma

Intermediate: B1


wonderful story. thank you 'British Council' for provide these kind of help .it is too helpful me to develop my English skill.

Your story were full of misleading statements. I didn't realise that Alberto, Mimi and their neighbours are animals before the ending part of the story .
I thought they are human and when Alberto,Mimi and neighbours talked about owner and staff I suprised I thought maybe I don't understand well, maybe they are some kind of slave.
When they first talked about the staff I imagined there are some people that work for them. I didn't have any clear idea who are these staff, did they work in their house? did Alberto and Mimi are some kind of rich people who have staff who serve them everywhere they want?..
Anyway when they started to talk to each other and talked about the owner and staff, and when Mimi and Alberto taught their neighbours how to be a staff I gradually started to get suspecious. I really confused I found out that they are animal but I never guess what they exactly are before they clearly said what they are

Hello parisaach

I think the writer wanted the readers of his story to react in the way you reacted. So it's good that you were a little confused, because it means you read it in the way he intended.

By the way, you might also enjoy this story. If you ready it, let me know what you think!

All the best


The LearnEnglish Team

When I read this story was unable to understand.i didn't feel like this story is about cat and dog.
I read it again and again.i completely understood it when I was reading it 3rd time.

I read this story, but I do not understand the meaning of staff?

please help me.

Hello popo1011

'staff' has many meanings, but the appropriate one here is 'the people who work for an organization'. So the idea is that cats think that the humans they live with work for them.

Does that make sense?

All the best


The LearnEnglish Team

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


The LearnEnglish Team