Have you ever been bothered by unwanted pests in your home? And I don't mean mice or ants. No, the worst kind of pest that can takeover your home are definitely the human kind. Sometimes, with relatives you feel duty-bound to invite them to stay. You just need to batten down the hatches and stock up on as many mind-numbing drugs as you can lay your hands on to get you through it.You may share a gene pool with them, but by the time you've finished sharing your home with them, you will never want to set eyes on them ever again. Oh yes, they may arrive in a flurry of kisses and hugs, but they'll be leaving with you holding a shotgun to their retreating backs.
At first all will be well. Make the most of that first day they arrive (or in my case that first five minutes). Things will then quickly devolve into a master/slave scenario, with your guests making demands that will stretch your nerves and good humour to the limits of human endurance. Your home will suddenly become full of their clutter. You will quickly tire of having to constantly introduce them to everyone you meet. Never, ever, tell them to treat your home like it's their own. They will take over the best seats to watch hours of International Bowls and hold on to the remote like a junkie clutching a stolen prescription pad. It'll be like they've never seen a television set before. Somehow, they will also manage to delete all the shows you've been saving on your planner for weeks, drop biscuit crumbs everywhere and start putting their feet up on your furniture. At this stage you will simply want to punch them until they're unconscious.
They will go through your kitchen like locusts, devouring everything in their path, yet never once offering to replace any of it. You will come down each morning to a messy kitchen, wet towels everywhere and no milk for your own breakfast. You will lock yourself in the garden shed and play with a band saw and your own fantasies. If they've brought any children with them, just accept that they will be using your walls as a sketch-pad and your sofas as trampolines. Also be prepared for elderly relatives to be hypochondriacs who are fully expecting to die in your house. They will cheerfully tell you that they're "not expecting to make it through the night". Yeah, join the club. They will take malingering to a new level and have you rushing up and down the stairs all day with dainty morsels to tempt their appetite, and various medications and hot water bottles. You will overnight become their full-time carer. The whole house will go into silent lockdown when they listen to the Archers. Magically though, they will recover at the same time every day and practically sprint downstairs like a teenager to watch their favourite game show. By now, you'll know to just leave the sherry bottle with them.
If relatives are an ordeal best avoided, I'm afraid friends are no better. The most annoying thing is when you realise you no longer have much, if anything, in common with them. So now you have to suffer the double agony of dancing attendance on people you haven't seen in ages and whom you don't even like anymore! This can be hell. They will have developed strange food allergies and have high expectations that you will cater to their every whim. Somehow they have mistaken your home for the Dorchester.They will also constantly use your telephone for long distance calls to other potential suckers to put them up as they "pass through". Expect them to commandeer your computer for hours as well, usually looking at the kind of porn that will result in your eventual arrest as part of a police sting operation. I also hate it when the first thing they tell you after not having seen you for 10 years is that they're on anti-depressants and just want a quiet time. They will then spend most of their time morosely struggling with a 5,000 piece jigsaw of a brick wall.
I especially hate it when I have to put up with couples who want to use their time in my home to rekindle their sex life. Why do they do this? Even if I place them in a room as far away as possible from mine, I can still hear them going at it like two walruses fighting over a penguin. Even worse is the couple who are heading for splitsville. They will choose your home to unleash their mutual venom and anger and the resulting tension will be unbearable. Eventually you will just want to throw yourself down the stairs in the hope that you can get some respite in a hospital bed. But I reserve my deepest hatred for the con-artists who, as they are about to leave, turn around with a big smile and say that they've enjoyed your hospitality so much they've changed their flight, just so they can prolong their torture of you for another week…