Friday, 06 March 2015

House Guests

Should house guests strip their beds or just lie in them, asks Sam Taylor

Written by Sam Taylor
There is a new test produced by the people at Debrett’s that promises to rate how you stand on the house guest-ometer. It was passed to me by our staff writer Melonie after she and eight of our other ladies came down to Rock House for a seaside break – for the record, they all scored very highly indeed. Honestly.

The questions range from the mildly bizarre: should you introduce yourself to your host’s dog? A must in England, surely. To the fairly obvious: should you ask your host before you help yourself to the drinks cabinet or switch TV channels? A most definite Yes.

Personally, I was most concerned with the guidance given to house guests over the small issue of helping out with the chores. Crucially: should you leave the tidying up to the host so that they can adhere to their cleaning routine? The official answer is that you are supposed to keep your physical presence in your host’s home to a minimum and offer to help with the washing-up or laying the table. Oh, and when you leave, you should clean up your room and offer to strip the linen. In short, if you’ve offered to make your bed, you can lie in it. This last one can be a deal-breaker. How hard is it to pull off a sheet? And wet towels? Left on the bathroom floor because ‘they didn’t know where they went’.

Unfortunately, the days have long gone when people would arrive with a supporting cast of helpers – now it falls to the hostess. Cups of tea. Rounds of drinks. Nibbles. Three-course meals. Brekkies. Loading and unloading the dishwasher. Avoiding the desire to stab those who emerge in the kitchen coiffed for supper saying, ‘Do let me know if there’s anything I can do,’ while you stand there a streaky-make-up mess, purple-faced from two hours waging battle with the gas cooker and a tricky placement.
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My friend Virginia (not her real name) once lost it so completely she went to the pub round the corner, rang home and told the startled guests she wouldn’t be back. So, the next time they don’t lift a finger, it’s always an option.
Next week: Fake flowers.


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