When the McGoody family moved into the street, the neighbours said to their friends, "Guess who lives here? The McGoodys!"
Their friends replied, "No! Not the famous, fabulous McGoodys. Is it true that they are the world's perfect family?"
"It certainly is true," the neighbours said.
"Are they beautiful and successful and happy, just like they are on TV?" friends asked.
"They really are," the neighbours answered. "Even their dog is perfect. It doesn't bark. It doesn't shed hair and it doesn't do you-know-what on the pavement."
After that the friends visited the street often. They leaned over fences to catch a glimpse of Mr and Mrs McGoody and the two McGoody children. They took photos of their house.
The mailman who delivered letters to the street, walked slowly to and from the McGoody mailbox. One morning, the mailman was rewarded. Mr McGoody himself, came out to get the mail. "Oh!" gasped the mailman "It is such an honour to bring mail to the world's perfect family. Please, Mr McGoody, may I have your autograph?"
"We just do our best," smiled Mr McGoody, patting a pocket full of pens. "What colour ink would you like? Red, black or green?
The McGoody family were always in the news.
Mr McGoody was a handsome man. He had five university degrees and was a billionaire. He ate sugar-free, fat-free, junk-free health food. Every morning he ran for ten kilometers and he never had smelly sneakers. During the week he had his own TV show in which he gave advice to world leaders. At the weekends he tended his prize-winning apple trees and showed his neighbours how to garden.
Mrs McGoody had been a beauty queen. Her hair and nails were always perfect, even though she worked in her home from morning to night. She snipped and sewed and stirred and baked, while doing aerobic exercises to keep herself trim. She cooked her family sugar-free, fat-free, junk-free health food and she designed all their clothes. In the evenings, she gave public talks on "Ten ways to keep your husband happy," and "How to raise brilliant children."
Like her husband, Mrs McGoody believed that a perfect family should help their neighbours. She showed the women in the street how to do aerobic patchwork and make aerobic strawberry jam. "Helping neighbours makes the world go round," she said.
Without doubt, the McGoody children were brilliant. Priscilla McGoody was as beautiful as her mother. Like her mother, she was able to do several things at once. For example, she could write with both hands at the same time. With her left hand she could do a math exam and with her right hand, answer a spelling test. She would get both 100% right.
"How do you do that?" groaned the other children.
"Easy," smiled Priscilla. "It runs in the family."
On sports days, Victor McGoody came first in every event except those won by his sister. He often asked his teacher for extra homework. "A smart boy wants to learn all he can," he said.
Victor also played the flute in an orchestra. He gave the other kids at school, free tickets to hear him play.
"Why are you so good at everything?" they asked.
Victor smiled. "I come from a perfect family," he said.
One Saturday morning, Mr McGoody bought some new pink and white barbecue furniture with plates, mats and napkins to match.
"Oh, Honey!" cried Mrs McGoody. "It's gorgeous! Let's have a barbecue right away.
"Sweetie, what a marvellous idea!" said Mr McGoody.
"We'll have it on the front lawn where everyone can see," said Mrs McGoody. "I believe that we have a duty to share beautiful things with our neighbours."
Victor said, "Mother, dear. I know you are very kind and all that. But we are not going to invite the neighbours, are we?"
"We have only four chairs," said Priscilla.
Mrs McGoody smiled at them, "No, my angels. This is family time. The neighbours can look, that's all. Now, precious children, would you like to help me?"
"Yes, yes, yes!" laughed Priscilla, jumping up and down and clapping her hands "'Oh Mother, thank you for asking."
Victor said, "Tell us what to do, Mother, and it will be done at once."
Every one set to work. Mr McGoody put the table and chairs on the front lawn, then cooked the chicken on the barbecue. Mrs McGoody mixed the salads. The McGoody children set the table and made a jug of cold lemonade. The McGoody dog lay under the table, sniffing the chicken smoke and patiently waiting for its share.
Big events sometimes begin with something very small. This time, the small thing was an apple.
Mr McGoody put the dish of chicken on the table. As he leaned over, one of his prize-winning apples dropped out of the tree and landed plonk on his head. This had never happened to Mr McGoody before. He was so surpised he shouted, "Boggles!"
It was the first time Mrs McGoody had heard her husband swear. Deeply shocked, she dropped a bowl of beetroot salad. It hit the ground and splashed up over Victor and Priscilla.
The children had never been in such messy clothes. There was red stuff on Priscilla's blue dress and Victor's white shirt, red stuff on their faces and hands. They screamed and jumped back, upsetting the table.
The dog had been asleep under the table, dreaming of chicken. It woke up with the fright of its life. Not knowing what it was doing, it rushed out barking, and bit Mr McGoody on the ankle.
Mr McGoody was in pain. He hopped around shouting at Mrs McGoody, "This is all your fault, you stupid woman! Can't you hold onto a bowl of salad?"
"Don't blame me, you bad-tempered idiot!" Mrs McGoody shouted back. "I didn't tip over the table!"
The McGoody children were too upset by their messy clothes, to say anything. They stood there, screaming. The dog, not knowing what to do, ran round in circles and barked and barked.
Within seconds, Mr and Mrs McGoody were having a terrible row.
"I don't slave day in, day out, to be called an idiot!" Mr Goody yelled.
"All you think of is yourself!" cried Mrs McGoody. "You brute, you don't love me or you wouldn't talk like that!"
Priscilla and Victor screamed at their parents, "What about us!"
Their parents snapped at them. "Shut up!" and the dog went yap, yap, yap.
When the row had died down, the McGoodys realised what they had done. They hurried indoors, red with embarrassment.
"We had an argument!" whispered Mr McGoody, as he bandaged his ankle.
"In public!" wept Mrs McGoody.
"All the neighbours saw," moaned Priscilla and Victor, sitting on the white velvet couch, in their beetroot clothing.
"You realise what this means, don't you?" said Mr McGoody. "We are no longer the world's perfect family. It will be all over the news. Can't you just see tomorrow's headlines?"
No one spoke for a moment, but the dog put its head under the couch and whimpered.
"There is only one thing to do," sighed Mrs McGoody.
In the middle of the night, a removal van came to the McGoody's front door. By morning, the house was empty and there was a FOR SALE sign on the front lawn.
The mailman spread the news to the neighbours. "The world's perfect family has moved away."
The neighbours smiled at each other. "Oh goody!" they said.
© Joy Cowley
Read our interview with Joy Cowley.