Tricky one, this: there’s a chance that I won’t come out of it well Impossible.
Cass’s blog, written in April 2015, with Jonathan’s comments in manly blue, and Cass’s rebuttals in lady-like pink.
The thing is, when we lived in London, so did the vast majority of our friends; there was rarely any need for anyone to stay, and on the occasions when they did, it was only for a night or two, and we would launch ourselves into it with gusto She means gin Yeah I do, and plenty of it. But it’s a whole other business spending a week with people you’ve only ever had dinner with – maybe lots of dinners, over many years – but who you’ve never seen in their jammies.
Nowadays, given that all our relatives and friends live thousands of miles away, having guests is a way of life. They tend to start arriving in April, and tail off towards the end of September (funny that), though the earlier and later ones have to take a gambler’s approach to the weather. Weather-wise, this April, so far, has been perfect; last year, not so much. The previous September, two of my Irish university friends came at the end of the month, their bags confidently packed full of flip-flops and floaty dresses they were women, you understand, and were treated to a storm so epic that it made international news a tornado, no less – in Gandia, our local town! It tore through the feria – a kind of town-wide fête.
They left after three days of lashing rain and miserable temperatures, and then it was boiling hot till the end of November. They still had a nice time, though. At least, they said they did. And they do, forever more, get to make hilarious jokes about the climate here.
I have yet to master restraint when it comes to people staying with us. They are so infectiously excited about being on holiday that you can’t help but join in; but then they head home and back to work and we… get ready to welcome the next lot. This is very, very poor for the health/weight/bank balance. I tell myself each time that I will explain that they are welcome to do whatever they like, but that I must catch up with work, have an early night occasionally, drink water, and get some exercise. I do make myself laugh sometimes. Water?! You make me laugh, too. Sometimes.
Some people are easier to live with than others; I won’t lie. Our nephew Dan and his girlfriend Georgie have been to stay for many weeks, every summer that we’ve been here, and I can honestly say that they could live here permanently, and I’d be happy. Anyone (well, Dan and Georgie again) who unloads the dishwasher without making a song and dance about it is my friend forever.
I’m less keen on the ones who say they’re ‘easy’ and then turn out to be properly high-maintenance (this can and does happen when an old friend brings a new partner), Go on! Name names! It’s enough that I know with food intolerances and allergies for which they need obscure medication (bring it WITH you!), and look at me like I’ve bombed an orphanage if I offer them a Diet Coke. There’s a certain kind of hectoring right-on-ness that I can’t be doing with, especially in my house. There was also the memorable time when Jonathan ran a writer’s course here and I did the catering: all participants were asked in advance if they had any particular food issues and one guy only told us on the day he arrived that he was vegetarian. And another that she didn’t eat lamb – worth mentioning, no?
The picky ones don’t tend to come back (subliminal messages or something, I don’t know what to tell you), but they have honestly been very few and far between. The hilarious ones are the teenage girls. We had two lovely sixteen year olds staying one year, and they took 700 photos in six days – of themselves. Dudley made an appearance in one more a walk-on part than a starring role, but otherwise, all of the ones deemed good enough to be published on Facebook were of themselves; putting on make up in the bathroom, posing in the pool, lolling on the loungers… To be fair, they were both highly photogenic, and they’re talented photographers. And I had not even heard of ‘selfies’ at this point. One morning our sitting room was littered with the two teenage girls themselves – apparently a HUGE bug with, like, a thousand legs, man, had freaked them out in their bedroom, and they thought they’d sleep more safely draped over the armchairs. I’m pretty sure I would have done the same at their age. Am a tad more butch about beasties nowadays but just this very morning there was a two-tone spider on the car so very large that I did have to scream.
I am a fairly (but I think not hysterically) tidy person but what is it with people and their shoes? I swear that when we have guests, I am picking up dozens of pairs of shoes/flip flops/trainers from in-the-way places – like doorways, for heaven’s sake! – every single day.
PS Jonathan leaves his shoes everywhere too. What is WRONG with these people? Did you know that in screenwriting one of the ways to distinguish between a tragic hero and a comic hero is that the tragic hero thinks that he is wrong and the rest of the world is right, and the comic hero that he (or she) is right and everyone else is wrong. Just saying.
My favourite thing about guests (given that we’ve heard more than enough about my least favourite things Nonsense, dear)? Having people to stay that you really didn’t know well, and were therefore in a very risky area – and you get on like champions. This happened last year when my god-daughter Dulcie came to stay with her best friend – I’ve always had a lovely relationship with Dulcie but it’s mostly been via Facebook and birthdays and Christmas – so her coming out for a week with someone we’d never met…well, it could have gone wrong, right? Instead, it was a joy, and to my absolute delight, they’re coming back again in a few weeks.