Dad says that people with dogs grow to look like their pets. Well I think you can nearly say the same thing about houses. Our house for example; it is semi-detached and Victorian, just like The Parents. Dexter's house was built by his Dad. It is very grand on the outside with lots of columns and sticking out bits (see left) and inside you cannot move for gadgets to save you doing stuff like flicking a light switch or pulling the curtains or flushing the loo. So, too big and full of itself, just like Dexter. My ideal house is in the shape of a spaceship and I think you will agree, it is a bit special.
Anyway I'm going to Miranda's and her house is tall and thin and rambling just like her dad.
'Come in, come in, come in, Wilfredo,' he rambles and I step into the tiny thin porch full of wellies and big raincoats. We are standing very close together in the porch, not going anywhere. 'Just call me Chas,' he says and he peers up at the ceiling. 'Chas, Chas...'
Miranda decides to join us in the tiny porch, so I move behind one of the big coats to wait for a decision about actually going further into the house.
'HELLO,' she bellows at her father, 'WHAT ARE YOU DOING? '
'If I'm right,' says Chas pointing, 'that is a charming little wasp spider...'
'LET ME CLIMB ON YOUR SHOULDERS!' barks Miranda. 'I'LL TAKE A PHOTO!'
'NO! You'll frighten it! I'll take a photograph!'
And I think they start fighting, I can't really see.
'Just what are you doing in the porch, Charles? Where is your guest, Miranda?' This must be the voice of the fever-struck, one armed mother.
I brave it and stick a hand out through the coats and wave. 'Hello.'
She laughs. It is a nice laugh. Maybe she is normal. She looks normal, even her arm. 'Fantastic camouflage, Wilf. Worthy of a stick insect, I think!' Hmmm.
Turns out Miranda's Mum is quite cool. She keeps a selection of false arms in the kitchen on a sort of rack. At the kitchen table, Miranda and me eat baked beans and fishfingers and fizzy orange. Then we have chocolate cake with ice-cream for pudding - not a weevil or an ant in sight and I am dizzy with fullupness.
'Do you want to have a battle?' asks Miranda in a furtive sort of voice when her Mum has gone out of the room.
I shrug. I am not used to battling with girls. She raises one eyebrow and picks an arm off the rack. 'Go on - if you dare!'
I grab an arm and we sit at the table and lock hands for arm wrestling. Miranda is very good.
'You must practise,' I say, puffing as my false arm flies off the table for the third time.
'Yeah but Mum is the best,'
'Your Mum arm-wrestles?!' I cry. 'With her actual arms?'
Miranda nods. 'All the time, she's a national false-arm-wrestling champion.'
I AM IMPRESSED though I don't tell her that.
'Do you want to see the stick insects?' asks Miranda.
'Could do,' I say.
So we do and that is when I fall in love for the first time. Her name is Stinky and she is a thorny stick insect who has just become a mother and I am going to have her babies. Stick insects are fantastic. Just look at them! I am sure The Parents will love them.