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“I could hardly believe my eyes
As a big limousine rolled up into Alice’s drive”
– New World 1972, Smokie 1976, Gompie 1995

We have something that looks like this outside our humble home:

That’s because it’s seller’s season in the Berra.

There’s nothing more hateful for a tenant than to let a bunch of strangers troop through your home twice a week, examining your most private spaces without even taking their goddamned shoes off. Looking at your home as a mere commodity. No-one likes waiting to see if the new owners will take away the roof over your head.

But there’s doubtless a lot of tenants like us around the Berra tonight, because property is hot and everyone’s selling up.

Housing affordability in the Berra is the lowest it’s been in more than 20 years, making the Berra the third most expensive city in Australia. And prices are predicted to rise by as much as 14 percent in the next two years. Consequently a lot of running-dog landowners are keen to cash in – including ours.

The little weatherboard cottage next door sold for a king’s ransom late last year, making an absolute bomb for our old neighbours.

The new neighbours haven’t been very forthcoming. We had good over-the-fence relations with the previous neighbours, who told us their house and all furnishings were bought by a film production company from Melbourne.

We thought about this for a while. Who makes films in the Berra? What films would require a fully-furnished house, and a new shed out the back? … and,

Why do we always have to think the worst of people?

We put our unsavoury, unworthy thoughts aside.

The real estate agent dealing with our house, aside from being a little too tanned and a little too blonde, has been pretty decent. On the phone last week, settling the details of the next open house, he was keen to talk about other things.

“Have you met the people next door yet? Do you know what they do?” he asked. He sold next door too, and clearly knows our neighbourhood quite well.

“We haven’t met them yet. They keep to themselves,” I said.

“But there’s a lot of loud door slamming at night, and there’s been a few large trucks moving furniture in and out lately.”

Real Estate could hardly contain himself.

“I’ve found out,” he squeaked. “They’re making porn!”

[sound of crickets]

The Bald Man and I had joked about it, of course. But it’s one thing to make a joke, another to find out that you really are living next door to Alice XXX.

“It’s tasteful porn, not the bad stuff,” Real Estate added quickly.

I googled their site as we talked. The front page is very wordy and sepia toned, with some very un-porn-like vintage pics.The large block of text includes comforting assertions like,

[We] ensure all contributors … have a positive experience, engage the mind in the sphere of erotic experience, [and] make erotica which is culturally valuable and equally appealing to both women and men.

[more crickets]

Flabbergasted, I went round to see my colleague and friend Caro in her office.

“We’re living next to porn stars!” I shrieked. Don’t suppose she hears that every day.

When the Bald Man got home we had a bit of a look in the website – just to see if we could spot next door in any pictures, you understand. All we did see was a lot more text, and (a very few) artistically cryptic photos. No familiar lounge suites.

I’m not sure what to make of the business, let alone the new neighbours.

But thankfully we’ll have time to find out. Real Estate just called – the house has sold to investors, and they want to talk about a new lease. Looks like we still have a home.

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