Tim Key: There's a man in my lounge. He is snoring. And interrupting my work as a columnist

 

Share

There's a man in my lounge. It's 8.30am and I am being as quiet as I can be, so as not to wake him. I am sat on my red chair, next to my oven, silently drinking coffee. I do not want to disturb the man. His low snores and grunts drift around my flat. He is my houseguest, and so I let him sleep.

It wasn't planned. The overground from Dalston Junction was out of action last night owing to a fire at Brondesbury. The results were far-reaching and, on a personal level – owing to the fact that he was stranded while on my watch – I ended up with this man. He falls, I suppose, into the category of 'unexpected houseguest'. AKA, a bloody nightmare.

It's a funny thing having a man descend upon you, and not a situation I'm altogether skilled at coping with. One minute you're on the verge of zapping back to your pad and dealing with the night alone, the next you are unlocking the door with a man in tow and having lots of conversations about bedding. That's what we had last night. Me and the man falling into the lounge and drinking pints of Worthington's; him negotiating for something warm to be draped over him. I could see it from his point of view, of course. He is a man, so in order to sleep he needs warmth, but even so. I wanted to go to bed, not improvise nests. I rooted out a duvet and hid my disgust.

Of course, the style of the houseguest is crucial in these situations. If your houseguest is a 55-year-old businessman who prides himself on being "no trouble", then that is very different from taking in a drunken cousin, which in turn differs wildly from dragging home a barmaid/man. The chap currently in my lounge (and snoring like a gunman) is none of the above. What is through there is a big Scouse unit. I've known that snore for 13 years, and have had him as a houseguest possibly 25 times. Of all his qualities (brilliant theatre director, passionate Liverpool fan, more than useful lower-order batsman) being 'no trouble' is some way down the list. The discarded plates, half-full of an overambitious ginger and chilli risotto, "rattled up" seven hours ago and now balancing in the sink, are testament to that.

The problem I have is that storing a houseguest doesn't quite fit into the life of a working columnist. As a reader, you maybe wouldn't appreciate this, but filling this page is more or less a full-time commitment. I spend, on average, four or five hours an evening and a couple of full days pulling together a column.

If three of my allocated hours are spent necking peach schnapps, watching poker and hunting for sheets for the comfort of a man's back, my journalism inevitably suffers.

Fair to say, I am much better being a houseguest than taking one in. I'll really throw myself into the role with gusto. I'll impishly crack open rum, make a play for the host's bed and spend the morning plodding round naked and terrorising any flatmate, wife or tradesman who gets in my way. For a decade or so that was my bread and butter. I've slept on maybe 75 sofas over the years, as well as five armchairs, two stools and a potty. It's not as if I can't empathise with my man's plight. It's just... it's such a responsibility. You have to make sure they are hydrated, you have to tuck them in all nice, you have to constantly check they're OK. I popped in on my man at three and then again at five. I touched his forehead to check for fever. I was the perfect host.

My houseguest's stretch is almost done. Soon I will tip him back out on to the street, happy that I have fulfilled my social requirements. I have met his demands of warmth and fluid, and I have written a column commemorating his visit. Mi casa su casa, Clive. You're welcome any time (within reason).

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Supporters in favour of same-sex marriage pose for a photograph as thousands gather in Dublin Castle  

The lessons we can learn from Ireland's gay marriage referendum

Stefano Hatfield
Immigration enforcement officers lead a Romanian national who has been arrested on immigration offences from a house in Southall in London  

Don’t blame migrants – the West helped to create their plight

Yasmin Alibhai Brown
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine
Letterman's final Late Show: Laughter, but no tears, as David takes his bow after 33 years

Laughter, but no tears, as Letterman takes his bow after 33 years

Veteran talkshow host steps down to plaudits from four presidents
Ivor Novello Awards 2015: Hozier wins with anti-Catholic song 'Take Me To Church' as John Whittingdale leads praise for Black Sabbath

Hozier's 'blasphemous' song takes Novello award

Singer joins Ed Sheeran and Clean Bandit in celebration of the best in British and Irish music
Tequila gold rush: The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product

Join the tequila gold rush

The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product
12 best statement wallpapers

12 best statement wallpapers

Make an impact and transform a room with a conversation-starting pattern
Paul Scholes column: Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?

Paul Scholes column

Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?