Middle Class Problems: How will I cope when the house-sitting ends and I have to return to my inferior flat?


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The Independent Online

Well this'll do nicely. Very nicely. Bigger, lighter, more decoratively co-ordinated, closer to work than mine – and not a dripping ceiling in sight.

House-sitting for Denise and Lee, while my roof is fixed and while they're on safari in Africa, is like house-sitting for apartment royalty. My own flat is a distant, inferior memory compared with the wall-to-ceiling luxury surrounding me. Even their houseplants seem greener and perkier than my wilting Dracaena.

Initial fears of feeling uncomfortable in someone else's home – Can I have people over? Can I sleep in their room? – and premonitions of trying to remove tomato sauce from their deep-pile white carpets are soon forgotten when I see the yoga/spare room, the built-in coffee machine (latte, anyone?) and the four-poster bed.

But… how will I cope, when this comes to an end, with returning to a flat where I won't be woken by sun streaming through a skylight? Will my feet shrink from my laminate flooring? Will friends think less of me for not being able to hold barbecues? I think I need a soak in the free-standing bath.

But wait, there's a spare room here!

Sadly, when Denise and Lee return home, they don't ask me to move in permanently, and, back in my one-bed – despite the leak that caused a month of anguish having wondrously stopped – the feeling of being home-sweet-home is anticlimactic. Even the Dracaena greets me by looking even limper than before.

Hmm. Surely Mrs Wilson upstairs wouldn't mind if I built a skylight in my bedroom…