Two households, both alike in dignity…

spring daffofils

So, as some of you may know, the initial motivation behind us deciding to move house came last year when, after a 6-year absence, Nigel, the International Man of Mystery Next Door, turned up and announced that he was preparing to put his house up for sale.

We were worried. His house shares a wall with ours, and after years of having no neighbours, we were used to the peace and quiet, and didn’t really fancy having to share “our” space with The Others, who would obviously move in with their thumping baselines and their drum-kits  and make our lives a misery. Even if that didn’t happen, and our new neighbours were model citizens, it was the push we needed  to start thinking about moving, and it was the main catalyst which sent us down the path we’ve been on for the past few weeks, of preparing our house to sell and looking at others.

It was almost exactly a year ago that Nigel re-appeared and told us he’d be putting his house on the market soon. But he didn’t. Oh, he did a ton of work on it, but it didn’t go up for sale and then, last autumn, Nigel abruptly disappeared again: until last week, it had been six months since we’d last seen him. We relaxed a bit. He obviously wasn’t in any hurry to sell, and hopefully by the time he WAS ready to sell, we’d be long gone.

Our ’For Sale’ board went up on Monday.

Nigel’s went up today.

In retrospect, there was really no other possible way this could have panned out. Everyone I’ve told so far has said, “I can’t believe it… but then again, actually I can, because that’s just your luck, isn’t it?”

And yeah, it really is. On the one hand, we guess there’s a good chance that anyone who comes to see his house will decide to take a look at ours too, which will hopefully give us a bit of free advertising. Obviously that works both ways, though, and when there are two identical houses, both listed for exactly the same price, but once is empty and just “dressed” for sale, while the other is full of all our stuff (and, you know, US) I know which one I’d go for. Our house is probably going to be hard to sell anyway, (It’s very much a “first-time buyer” home, and with the economy the way it is, it’s quite difficult for new buyers to get mortgages right now) and given the lack of buyers for houses like ours anyway, we’d really rather not be having to compete with the house next door, and the International Man of Mystery within. (Or without, as the case may be…)

Basically, then, after 6+ years of living peacefully, side-by-side with our international mystery man, the time has come for us to go to war with him instead. From ancient grudge break to new mutiny, or, to put it another way: IT’S ON, people. We will fight him on the beaches. We will fight him on the suburban lawns. We will fight him in the driveways, and afterwards he will go and meticulously clear his up, and we’ll probably go and open a bottle of wine, because we’re like that. We are footsoldiers in a suburban war: there can be only one victor, and it kind of has to be us, because God knows, those shoes will have to live SOMEWHERE.

The current plan is that any time we see people coming to view the house next door, Terry will run outside and invite them to take a look at ours, too. I’ll be waiting with a tray of cupcakes, a basket of kittens, and a handful of hair-raising tales about all the bodies under the patio next door. “It’s said that those who step over the threshold never return!” I will cackle dramatically, in the manner of a wise old crone. “Would you like another cupcake?”

Now, who wants to bet that Nigel has only done this so that he can make an offer on the house we’re interested in? Anyone?

[P.S. To answer the question that always comes up when the subject of The House Next Door arises: no, we can't just buy Nigel's house, knock down the walls and turn it into a walk-in wardrobe. For once thing, it's not nearly large enough to be my closet, but for another, we can't afford to buy ANY house unless we sell this one first. The houses we've been looking at aren't in this area, but even if we did want to stay here, we'd still have to sell this house in order to buy N's, and then we'd be in exactly the same position, only we'd be living next door. So we'll just have to curse him, unfortunately: it's the only way...]