Recently, I had a houseguest inflicted upon me. I use a negative sounding word such as “inflicted” because houseguests are basically flatmates that you can’t berate for leaving teabags on the side or for eating all your saving-it-for-a-special-occasion-truffle oil. What’s more, you’re supposed to actually be glad to have them there and mean it when you say “make yourself at home”, no matter how much of an inconvenience they are to your daily routine.
Now, my recent houseguest is a delight and a treasure and really not much of a bother at all but the last time he came to stay for one night, he stayed eight weeks. Eight. Weeks. If he hadn’t been such a jolly good bloke then it would have been the longest eight weeks of my life and the last of his, but as it happened, we became something akin to a real life married couple. You know, drinking cups of tea all evening, sharing a bed and not having sex (that’s how marriage works, right?). Anyway, my point being that if he hadn’t been such easy company, the unplanned extended stay at PFPT Towers would have been about as desirable as a dash of Tabasco sauce to a papercut on the eyeball, so I have been thinking of an action plan to prevent such overstays-of-welcome from happening again.
First of all, you need to give your guest that cosy welcome, that open-armed greeting that will make sure they want to stay for exactly as long as they were expected to (or better still, less). I find the best way to do this is to fill your home with the warm homely scent that can only be achieved by eating egg and cabbage curry for the week leading up to their arrival date. It’s a potent mixture but guarantees results. Also useful for stripping gloss paint so you may want to plan a spot of redecorating if you try this for any lengthy period.
Having spent all week eating eggs, cabbages, pickled naga chillies and anything else that causes toxic gas clouds the likes of which would shame Chernobyl, you’ll be tempted to replenish your pantry with delicious delights that would tempt a supermodel into retirement. After all, nothing says “welcome” like a freshly baked apple pie or a shelf loaded with tantalising naughty nibblies and cheeky bottles of booze. Resist. Just remember this, if you feed a stray dog, they will haunt your doorstep for weeks and the same is true of the houseguest. I don’t advocate starving them altogether though, that’s just rude and will earn you a reputation as a miserly social retard, but a few random items selected from the reduced section of the supermarket (chopped liver with custard on stale rice cakes, anyone?) should prompt them to do the thoroughly decent thing of taking you to a restaurant for the proper feed you so clearly need, just before they set off back to their own well stocked abode.
Other than ensuring your kitchen is a zone of dietary denial, your bathroom may need some tweaks too, unless you want to hear “you’re out of that really expensive shampoo stuff and is the toilet flush handle supposed to come off?” coming from behind the shower curtain two weeks after allowing your dear “friend” to enter your domicile for “just one night until the heating’s fixed/my girlfriend forgives me for sleeping with her sister/they stop showing my picture on the news”. Damp musty towels and a bottle of value dandruff shampoo should do the job nicely. If you don’t know how to make your towels really damp and smelly, nip down to your local underpass and lend one to a wee-stained tramp for a few days.
Having played host to a man of 6’5” and in a flat of about the same proportions, I can honestly say that if you can avoid letting them into your bed (see the stray dog point again) then you’re on to a winner and less likely to wake up face down on your own bedroom carpet at 03:00 while an 18 stone starfish stages an Occupy Mattress movement. If you have a spare room, lock it and say you can’t open it until the government have finished removing vital evidence in there, declare your bed as out of bounds and festoon it with dirty undercrackers and mysteriously crumpled tissues, then simply invest in a teeny tiny sofa on which to accommodate any overnight visitors and maybe procure a sleeping bag from one of the tramps while you’re down at the underpass. Nothing shifts a houseguest like a dose of scabies and a mortally cricked neck.
So, now you’ve welcomed your guest into your pungent home, fed them a nutritionally balanced meal (tinned hotdogs with gone-off trifle will surely become a modern classic), they have come out of the bathroom smelling worse than a tramp’s pocket and all that they can look forward to is a night spent sleeping in what is essentially a dog basket, they’re going to want entertaining. Good job you hid the television and all the books save for The Bible written in Mandarin and a copy of Miles to Go by Miley Cyrus. Entertain yourself with that, chump! Now is where you advise them not to worry, they won’t be bored without telly, in this house we have lights out at 21:00 so we’re all up at 05:00 for naked jazzercise. Perhaps start performing a few warm up lunges there on the spot as a preview and ask them exactly what do you call ‘jazz hands’ if they’re performed by Granny’s breasts?
If, after all of above the measures, you still find your little home invader eager to continue their stay at your charming abode, like a one person plague of locusts, there is one sure fire way to see them shooting out your door faster than a greased turd going round the u-bend – threaten to reclaim the favour.