Home stretch

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 22 January, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 22 January, 2012, 12:00am


I love having visitors from overseas to stay. I love it like I love having tin foil on my dental fillings or sticking my hand in a document shredder.

I love that they use my Shanghai Tang silver wine coaster as an ashtray and arrive with enough suitcases to rival Victoria Beckham on tour. And if they are Victoria Beckham, then I'm their tour manager, PA and fawning footman.

The worst are usually friends of friends, or people you liked decades ago. I also liked my hair dyed 14 colours back then. And Adam Ant.

Visitors of this ilk approach their visit with the enthusiasm of a Labrador puppy, all but sticking their nose in your crotch when you greet them at the airport, regardless of what god-awful hour they land. Every item in your house appears to be fair game, from the final peanut to the last drop of wine. When it comes to buying you a meal, they wouldn't shout if a shark bit them.

Benjamin Franklin had the right idea when he said: 'Guests, like fish, begin to smell after three days.'

How does one look excited at Peak Lookout for the 647th time when the pollution makes the view as interesting as sticking your head in a bucket of dry ice? How do you politely say that doing the obvious has the spontaneity of the Queen's Christmas message?

Heirlooms get broken, Han dynasty terracotta gets put in the dishwasher, smart London suits get put through the washing machine.

But once bad visitors leave, life no longer feels like it's on the spin cycle. A load is lifted - and sanity returns.