Life With Mabel: Part Twenty-Two

This is the twenty-second part of a fiction serial, in 746 words.

Although she hadn’t noticed anyone viewing the house, Mabel received a call about an offer. Still not used to having a phone, it always made her jump when it rang. It was the younger Mr Walker. He had set the asking price at seventeen fifty, though Mabel thought that was outrageous. “Things have changed in the short time since you bought your house, Mrs Price. The property market is booming, and home ownership is all the rage, Yes, I know that’s too much, but it gives us room to accept lower offers”.

He sounded very cheery.

“We have a good offer, Mrs Price. The couple have a mortgage agreed, and the required cash deposit. They are professionals too. He is a teacher in Cambridge, and his wife is an accountant for a publishing company in London. They have asked for the curtains and all flooring to remain, and their offer is fifteen hundred. Non-negotiable, so they say. But I am happy to haggle, if you woud like me to”. Mabel didn’t want to get into that.

“Accept the offer, Mr Walker. That sounds very fair to me. The curtains and carpets and lino will remain, as well as all other fixtures and fittings”. He sounded very pleased. “I will give them the good news, and take the house off the market. Thanks for your good judgement”.

Some six weeks later, Mabel came home from work to see the removal men packing away next door. The sale had all gone smoothly, overseen by Mr Colyer. She had had to go to his office to sign some paperwork and hand over the keys, and he had advised her it would all go through officially on the day she saw the removal van. After giving them an hour to do whatever they were doing, she went and knocked on the door. The man who answered had a beard, needed a haircut, and was wearing corduroy trousers. She introduced herself as both the vendor, and his new next door neighbour. He was very friendly.

“Come in and meet my wife. My name is Simon, Simon Telfer, and my wife is Helen”. The woman who walked through from the kitchen was very thin. Mabel would have described her as ‘very skinny’. Her hair was very long, and her flowered dress had a pattern of yellow daisies on a dark green background. Reg would have called them Beatniks. They were almost certainly both older than her, but Mabel felt old in their company. Mabel asked if she could get them some tea, perhaps some biscuits too.

Helen was grinning. “Oh no, we don’t drink tea, and we don’t eat biscuits. They are all sugar and fat you know, Mabel”. Mabel thought they were posh, and a bit strange. What did you drink, if not tea? And who cared if biscuits were sugary? That’s what made them taste nice. So she told them about bin collection days, and where the good shops were in the town. But she couldn’t shake the feeling that they weren’t interested, so politely took her leave.

“Well, I am only next door, if you want to ask me anything. I work in Woolworth’s, so you might see me in there”.

Waiting for Reg to get home, Mabel was beginning to regret selling Winnie’s house. The new neighbours were nice enough, but it was clear they were not her sort of people.

Reg came in, smiling. “I see the people next door have got a foreign car, a Citroen. It’s parked right outside, so must be theirs. Left-hand drive too. Maybe they are French?” As he ate his sausage, eggs, and chips, Mabel told him about Simon and Helen. He shook his head. “A beard, you say? And corduroys? I reckon they are probably Beatniks. I bet they love poetry too. Oh well, let them get on with it, we could’ve got worse neighbours, even if they are not our sort of people”.

That night as Reg settled in front of the television, Mabel was still feeling sad. Winnie would not have wanted Beatniks to be living in her house, she was sure of that. In bed that night, she remembered those nights of passion and affection she had shared with Winnie, and secrely confessed to herself that she had been hoping for a housewife a lot like herself to buy the house next door.

But nothing was ever going to happen with Helen, she knew that for sure.

29 thoughts on “Life With Mabel: Part Twenty-Two

  1. (1) Mr .Walker is known around town as the Happy Home Haggler.
    (2) Simon says, “Come in and meet my wife.” Mabel loved playing Simon Says, so she was happy to have him next door.
    (3) Simon was as thick as a book by Tolstoy. Helen was as thin as an Iowa tourist pamphlet.
    (4) Does Helen work for Simon & Schuster?
    (5) When it comes to neighbors, Beatniks can’t be beat. (Because you know what, sonny boy? No matter what, the beat goes on. So you might as well cher-ish those neighbors!)
    (6) If they’re Beatniks, they drive a Citroën 2CV (deux chevaux) rather than a DS.
    (7) Did you hear about the French king who wanted to grow a corduroy beard?
    (8) Tigger says, “Life without Winnie would be unbearable.”

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Well perhaps she’ll discover pot and a whole new way of life? How bizarre to think of buying a house for £1500! My cousin was a teacher in Wimbledon and made £15 a week (I think, not a month surely?)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. £15 a week in the 1960s was about right. When my dad worked for a record company from late 1960, he was paid almost £20 a week and given a company car. He really ‘went up in the world’. In 1967, my parents bought a 3-bed semi with a garage and large gardens in the south London/Kent borders suburb of Bexley. It cost less than £4,000 at the time, but the rest of the family thought they were crazy to spend so much.
      Best wishes, Pete.


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