Top Ten Tips for the holiday guest
There are a few problems associated with moving to such a beautiful part of the world, one of them being that anyone you have ever met, plus anyone who has ever met the people you’ve ever met – will want to come and visit you. Since moving to Canada, I have endured – sorry, enjoyed – over 40 lots of visitors. As much as I love being an unpaid tour guide, cook, driver and hotelier, after 13 years of doing this, I am getting a little bored.
The latest guests have just gone home. They arrived in mid-July, and they have only just gone home. In light of this experience, I have compiled a list of handy hints for the would-be holiday guest. I am not suggesting that these tips actually have any bearing to the six long weeks I have just endured. I am simply trying to help anyone who feels the need to go and stay in someone else’s house next summer. These tips will be invaluable to you, and your host. They may well save your relationship, maybe even your life. This is a free public service. You’re welcome.
- Do not book your flights without speaking to your host.
Your host may not be as excited by the prospect of a six week return date as you are. Should you mention that your return date is six weeks from your date of arrival, your host may well suddenly remember that they are planning to go on holiday, move, or kill themselves. They will certainly help you by suggesting you rethink your plans. They may hint at a more reasonable length of time: a week, say. Two weeks max. Six weeks is not acceptable, ever.
- Do not bring items from England and then ask for the money.
Yes, I did request some toothpaste, shower gel and gravy granules to be purchased, but I have to be honest – I was never going to be paying for them. You are staying in my house for six weeks, rent free. I am picking you up from – and returning you to – the airport, without requesting a fare to be paid. I am paying $18 to park – twice. You can pay for the toothpaste.
- Do not boil the kettle 45 times a day; sometimes for no reason.
Your tea habit should not be costing me hundreds of dollars in electricity. And your weird obsession with boiling kettles should not be indulged in my house. Whilst on the subject of making tea, do not use all my tea bags within four days of your arrival, and then announce in an irritated voice that “we have run out of tea bags”. Neither should you complain when I bring home “no name” tea bags as I can no longer afford Tetley.
- Do not drink all my alcohol.
Your penchant for using other people`s stuff should not force me to hide every last drop of alcohol in the house, resulting in me not being able to offer any other guests a drink as I can’t find any to give them. Do not resort to filling your wine glass with balsamic vinegar when no alcohol can be located. I am not being judgemental here so much as frugal. Believe it or not, I am sympathetic to your alcohol problem. I have one now myself, actually.
- Do not tell my cat every morning (when you think I can`t hear you) that she is a nuisance and to “go away”.
My cat is a nuisance, and I tell her regularly to “go away” – but you are not permitted to do this. The cat lives here – you don’t. If the cat wants to trip you up, bite you or wake you in the middle of the night, she has my full permission to do so.
- Do not hide your bread.
I am extremely grateful that you purchased two loaves of bread as a contribution to the household food supply. However, it does seem a little mean when you freely admit that you have hidden one of them, and this will be for your consumption only. If this is acceptable behaviour, then I will insist on hiding everything that I buy – which is just about everything else.
- Do not hide your brandy.
You may well believe that your brandy is `medicinal` and that this entitles you to keep it in your room. However, you lost the right to do this when you drank six cans of Guinness, eight bottles of wine, a bottle of vodka, all the balsamic vinegar and some ten year old cooking sherry, all purchased by me. You are also staying in my house, rent free, for six weeks. Did I mention that already? If I want a glass of your brandy, I think it should be available to me. In fact, it is your duty to provide me with regular doses of brandy throughout your stay.
- Do not re-organise my house at 6am.
What I love more than lights being turned on all over the house at 5am is being woken by the sound of cupboards being emptied at 6. I also love coming downstairs for my morning tea to find every pot, pan and plate scattered around the kitchen in random piles. Even more than this, I like to be told in my own house that I am the untidiest person you know, and that I must now spend the whole day cleaning said pots and pans, and putting them all back into the cupboards. Whilst you go back to bed.
- Do not keep walking into my bathroom when I am in the middle of bathroom type activities.
I know I spend a lot of time in the bathroom, but this does not mean you are invited to join me. The bathroom is meant to be a place of solitude – something I am learning to cherish. Whilst on the subject of bathrooms, do not use my expensive designer shampoo and conditioner and then replace it with Dollar Shop stuff called “Simple”. I am trying to work out if this is irony. Or maybe you are sending me some kind of message? Now you mention it, you could be right.
- Do not suggest we go for lunch on your last day and then not pay for mine.
You have stayed in my house, rent free, for six weeks. You have invaded my privacy, embarrassed me in public, knocked four of five years off my life due to stress, and caused me to investigate therapy, rehab and self-imposed exile. You have used up my electricity, gas, water, toilet roll and tea bags. The least you can do is buy me lunch.
By Juliet Sullivan