Between the lines: Home, sweet home?: Brent Barrett takes a Shakespearian line on guests

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. . . unbidden guests / Are often welcomest when they are gone.

(From Henry VI, Part 1, Act 2 sc 2, by William Shakespeare)

AFTER spending the past 18 months in hotel rooms touring with Grand Hotel, I looked forward to being in one place for six months. My London flat, with its English charm and quiet little rooftop garden, seemed too good to be true.

I'd just finished unpacking and had begun to get settled when the calls started rolling in. Friends from the States were calling to 'see that I had arrived safely' and to ask, whether I have room for them during their newly scheduled London vacation.

Now I cherish that one week of tranquillity as I stumble past the toy trains parked in the stairway, and the panty hose drying on the bannister. How did the aroma of soiled diapers in the garbage, the pile of dirty dishes in the sink and mountains of used towels become part of the English charm? Don't misunderstand me, I love my friends, but as the endless stream of luggage arrives through my front door, I look back fondly to those lonely days in my cramped hotel room. I guess it's true when they say 'life imitates art'. I'm not only playing in Grand Hotel, I'm living it]

Brent Barrett plays the Baron in 'Grand Hotel' at the Dominion, London

(Photograph omitted)