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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.

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



Language level

Intermediate: B1


It is the best sitе and very good story. But I didn`t uderstend it at first. Then I read comment and read carefully the last part of the story. I am surprised. There is very reasonably and simply at the same time. I am fascinated more and more. I wanted to improve my English. I don`t  notice that I study. I just enjoy reading and listening texts.  My English is improving unnoticed by me. Grateful!!! 

Really this site is great.. I like it very much .My life has been changed since I got it .Gradually My English has been improving.I read a story or articles per day,articles are very interesting and knowledgeable too.But I have a problem that i am surrounded with only Hindi (main language of India) .So I want a friend who know English whether more or less from which I can practice my English while speaking fluently.Will you like to be my friend ?I hope this will also help you,isn't  it?I am waiting for response.Anybody who has been read this comment wanted to be my friend ,I am waiting also for them.You all are Welcome .India is calling you.

Simply great... I love it very much. It is a bit confussing at first, but it end up terrific. The author done a splendid job and this story enumerate how creative we are.

I dont understand what the story is talking about ???

Hi Jet212

The story is confusing the first time you hear it because the writer makes you think the characters in the story Alberto and Mimi are people.

When you get to the end of the story there is a 'twist' or something surprising - Alberto and Mimi are not people.

Try reading the story - click on the Text tab to read along while you listen and read carefully the last part of the story. It's a lovely surprise to find out who or what Alberto and Mimi actually are.

Kevan Cummins
The LearnEnglish Team

Thank Kevan Cummins! I didn't understand the story at first, but now I get it. It's such an interesting and surprising story when we come to the last sentence and find out what it is really about.
Thank you very much, the author! ^^

Nguyễn Thị Quỳnh Giao ^^
Hanoi, Vietnam

Its give me pleasure after finding this learning resources for those who want to imrove their english

I will try to improve and utilize this wounderfull learning resources

I thanked british council for this great website


Shahid lahore

Well done! I've been surprised by the story. When I heard it the first time, I doubted about the real meaning. First I didn't understand who really were Mimi and Alberto and the neighbours. I was thinking to old and hot-tempered people.
Then I listened carefully a second time the whole story, and I got it !
I'm not sure that cats speak to dogs in that way, not even if pets speak. But the next time I'll choose a pet, I'll try to be certain that it'll be well-tempered !

Your texts
Cindymine writes: 'I love dogs rather than cats because dogs are more friendly than cats. Cats are all about food and comfort while dogs are friends to their owners. They are loyal, funny, and protective.
Two years ago, my dog Cindy died after 18 years of a life spent with all the family. I cannot hide that I drank a lot during all the days following this painful event and I cried too, especially in the evening. We still miss her. And when I remember all the times we passed together, and her commitment to the family life. I often wonder about the common idea that animals do not have a mind or intelligence.
Cindy, who was a very cute hybrid of poodle and 'barbichon' was always very careful in everything that can happen at home. The thing she loved above all was to play with us as often as possible. She liked swimming but when I couldn't go with her into the sea, she was always listening to my advice and if she felt me worried she didn't move forward one metre in the water.
One day we took in a little cat and every time when he met Cindy he tried to scratch her as he was very aggressive with everybody. Until the time when he passed under her and felt she had teats. Maybe he took her for his mother and after a while I saw Cindy lie down on her side giving the cat her teat. It was stunning! I'd never seen that before. But it was for me an example of kindness and generosity ... '
Gaia writes: 'I don’t like cats, I always heard that they bring disease, and cat hairs are not good for people who have asthma. But dogs are different, I love dogs. I remember when I was five, my parents came home one day with black dog. I don’t remember what type of dog it was, but we called it Ron. Ron was a very nice boy with the brown eyes and very nice and smooth fur. But Ron was very afraid of fireworks. There were a lot of fireworks and a lot of noise that New Year, and Ron couldn’t stand it. He escaped, and was away for one whole month. Then one afternoon, when I was in the garden beside the well, I saw Ron running towards me. Finally he has come home, I thought. I had been missing him a lot. That was more than 20 years ago, and Ron is still in my thoughts. I plan to buy a Parson Jack Russell after the summer vacation. I think it’ll be lovely.'
Giang writes: 'My family has a cat and two dogs. All of them live peacefully in our house. Every day, the two dogs guard the house, preventing all the thieves who want to steal anything from the house. And the cat catches mice. But at mealtimes, a war happens! The cat eats very little, but the dogs are both very greedy, and they always steal food from each other and from the cat. That's the problem. My mother has to separate the three pets, so that they can eat enough.'
Josefina Recalde writes: 'One day my mother’s neighbour, Gabriel Cavalie, rang the bell to my house to give a white dog to her. My mother accepted the dog and thanked him. What is more, she told him that he had come on her birthday! So, suddenly, he returned home and put a red ribbon round its neck. A few minutes later the neighbour rang the bell again and my mother said:
'What a wonderful gift I got today. I think it’s the best present I could receive.'
'I supposed that you were the right person to take care of it and give it all your love,' Cavi explained.
'I tell you, Cavi, that his name will be Justin, as he came on the same day as my birthday,' my mother told him.
Nowadays, Justin is eight years old. He likes going outside looking around the cars, going walking with people, and he’s easily amused with anything in the street.'
Wiriyabanditkul Tanaporn writes:  'I have my own pet. Her name is Remee. She is so funny and I love her so much. Now she is eight or nine years old and still strong. Remee likes to play and eat equally. My brother and l like to compete to see who loves her most. I always call her to play, but my brother calls her to eat. I always lose because she comes to me first and then she leaves me and eats something from my brother. I don't think I will be angry with her because if she does something bad, I may make a loud noise for a while and then play with her again. Once, when she destroyed my slipper, I made her a loud noise and told her I wouldn't play with her anymore. She was so quiet and realised that she had made a mistake. Since I have had her she is the new centre of my family because we have to talk about her, split our duties to take care of her such as giving food, playing with her, bathing her etc. If you don't have one, try one, and be happy with them.'
Annie writes: 'We like pets. We had two dogs, cairn terriers, but they died last year, the first in January and the second in February – both of them almost 16 years old. We are still missing them. But we have now six rabbits! They came from a woman who adopted rabbits. There are many people – they should be ashamed – who gave their pets away because they wouldn't care for them after a while. That kindly woman has a nice place where a lot of rabbits can live. Other people who want to have a few rabbits (rabbits are happier when they are not alone) can get them at her "farm", after a check to see if they have a good place for the animals at home. So the woman can make people and animals happy! I wonder if there are also some of these good initiatives for the welfare of animals in England.'
Eric Ramirez Rodriguez writes:

Am I her pet?
She pets me
She bites me
She scratches me
She hates me
She hurts me
She licks my lips
Am I her pet?