THERE’S a man asleep some feet above where I am sitting at my laptop. I’ve not met him yet as I was working when he arrived in the afternoon.
Another man left in the morning, but I did meet him. He was a Canadian musician who was playing in a show at York Theatre Royal. He kept mysterious hours and looked the part of the touring musician, artistic and rumpled, but he was pleasant and chatty, and he stayed four nights without ever wanting breakfast.
From what I could see, he lived off frothy instant coffee and cigarettes (although not smoked in the house).
As for the unmet guest, I just heard him go into the shower, and now I can hear the purr of the boiler and the plashing of water. One guest cancelled after I told him about the old boiler, which clanked rather than purred. It went on the blink and I thought I should warn him.
We keep having to shed old possessions: estate car, boiler, fridge-freezer. That car was made to last until it didn’t; same with the boiler, too, although the fridge-freezer was only a few years old, a stripling by comparison.
The man in the shower doesn’t know it but he is helping to pay for the boiler, as that’s how we are using our Airbnb money until the credit card cools down.
This house has been full of strangers for nearly two years now. The Airbnb thing fitted the jarring moment when I lost my job, and although the moment has moved on, we are not yet bedding down on used £20 notes or anything. Besides, we still enjoy the passing company.
Most guests are pleasant and interesting, and any who aren’t are gone soon enough – not that we’re had many horrid guests. One or two eccentrics or weirdos you feel relieved to see out of the door, but hardly anything for two years.
This month we have 79% five-star reviews from guests, and although I have no idea whether that is good, it seems okay.
This modern habit of having to rate everything you buy, use or consume is odd. I have reviewed plays, CDs, books and concerts in my time, but the other day a strange request arrived from John Lewis. An email asked me to review a lampshade; yes, a lampshade. Well, it’s a very nice thing, so nice we have two, but it was chosen by my wife, who takes all those decisions with an all-important nod from me. Where we would be without that nod just doesn’t bear thinking about.
Anyway, the man I haven’t met yet will be down soon for his breakfast. Unlike the bass player, he wants something to eat.