Monday, 2 August 2010


“Alice, please lock the door and don’t let anyone else in”. We had just hugged and kissed another guest a fond farewell.
“Darling”, I said, soothingly, “It is almost over, the last of the guests will be gone in few days. Keep smiling”.
“Keep smiling? Bloody hell Alice. I’ve started to dread the doorbell ringing. Every time it does there is someone standing there with a suitcase”.
“Sweetheart”, I continued gently, “It’s not for much longer I promise. We’ve done the Swiss and the Norwegians, so that’s Europe taken care of. Just got to get through the Americas and we’re done until next summer”.
Begrudgingly Hubby followed me to the basement where we changed yet another set of bed sheets, scrubbed the shower and Parazoned the loo.
“So how many are arriving later”, Hubby asked.
“Five of them. Two adults and three children”. Hubby’s shoulders visibly slumped.
“You’ll be at work for most of the time”, I answered, “All you have to do is open the wine for dinner and then talk animatedly for a couple of hours.” Unconvinced Hubby was quiet and in silence we carried the dirty linen up the stairs and filled the washing machine. The poor thing looked genuinely frightened at another heap of laundry it was expected to wash.
Finally I spoke. “Just pray that the sun shines”. God must be rushed off his feet at the moment as he most certainly didn’t hear my prayers. The first few hours in the company of my American friends was pleasantly warm and sunny. We sat in the garden and chatted amiably over a pot of coffee. The children did as children do and just ran off to play as though they’d known each other for years and our 14 year old daughter awkwardly took their 13 year old son for a stroll around Torpoint. We were just about to go the pub near the beach when the skies darkened and the heavens opened. We ran inside and the teenagers ran home.
Outside, the decibel level of four young children, two being exuberant Americans had been diluted. Inside, the noise level was insufferable. They crashed up and down the stairs, banging doors almost off their hinges. They bounced my exercise ball with all the gusto of Serena Williams along my hallway, even though the difference in circumference between a tennis ball and an exercise ball is like comparing planet Earth with the Sun. My nerves were so much on edge that my teeth were involuntarily grinding. My eight year old was in 7th heaven. I think she genuinely thought, if her accent and mannerisms were anything to go by, that she had landed a part in an American tv show. Hubby looked at me beseechingly. I shrugged my shoulders and poured him another glass of wine.
Then armed with a golfing umbrella, he went to light the barbeque. “Hey, before you go to too much effort”, said Bill, “We ought to let you know we don’t eat meat”. Hubby looked confounded.
“None at all?”
“Only of the feathered variety”.
“Oh and we don’t do gluten” added my friend, “I brought rice cakes with me”. Hubby looked at the pile of Sainsbury’s Taste the Difference beef-burgers and stack of Tiger Vienna Rolls and wondered what to do with them. Luckily I’d bought four, 2 for £5 chicken tikka kebabs, so at least there was something to feed our guests. They are all very thin, so they didn’t seem to mind. The children nibbled half-heartedly at a rice cake, turned their noses up at the coleslaw, made a pukey face at the tomato and mozzarella and insisted that “this stinks” at the Indian flavour and thus alien tasting, chicken. They went to bed eventually, leaving the adults to chat. My dear husband, mostly urbane and articulate around his type of men i.e in the Navy who preferably support Crystal Palace and Paul Weller with equal fervour, was literally at sea with Bill. A professor in Cinema and Media.
“Have you seen Apollo 13?” asked Hubby eagerly, certain that another man would share his passion for macho movies, “It’s brilliant!”
“Who’s the cinematographer?” asked Bill. Hubby looked utterly lost.
“Dunno”, he said, “But Tom Hanks is in it” as if that offered a satisfactory reply. Hubby was relieved to go to work the following morning and spend a working day with real men. The sky continued to drown us and we spent a fraught day with sweaty, noisy children in an indoor play centre. It was far removed from Manhattan. It continued thus for a couple of days and finally they too embraced us and departed.
Hubby retreated to his armchair with a glass of Calvados, the Tour de France and a happy sigh. I received a text from my son, ‘Ma, the support band we are watching need lodgings. I said you’d be cool with them kipping here’. This was not the time to share that information.


jinksy said...

Proving it never rains but it pours... LOL :)

DL said...

Cor Blimey, Alice!

We can black cat that, though. We've also had extra house guests these last three weeks. But as well as feeding and entertaining them, we've had to deal with blocked loos as a result of their inability to comprehend "no, that doesn't go in there, dear", daily floods in the bathroom (often as a result of said blocked loo overflowing), and absurd quantities of poo. Frequently not where it should be.

Your US friends seem sublime in comparison.

Best wishes,
D. x

Alice Band said...

DL - I can black cat your black cat. Had the guests last year who blocked our loo and subsequent poo and pee flooded through the ceiling and brought it down upon our sitting room floor and once again the insurance company went 'ne-ne-ne-ne-ne'....

DL said...

Damn! You got me there!