The Guest Bedroom

What are you supposed to do with a guest bedroom when you don’t actually have a guest in it? Just leave it alone? Come now, madam, that’s no way to milk 600 words out of nothing.

Looking for a new home in 2016, we had a ludicrous number of criteria for a rented flat to meet. After a year or so in a Thatcher-era apartment building with admittedly-delicious mushrooms growing on the walls, we longed for a properly-built Victorian tenement. It also had to be cheap, to be near to a railway station, to have taps and showers that work when (and only when) you turn them on, and to be within crawling distance of one or more of our favourite pubs.

We also dared to hope for a second bedroom to serve as a landing pad for far-flung friends, but we were prepared to forego this luxury if all the other criteria were met. They’re only friends, we thought. Fuck ’em.

Miraculously, the place we found (and now live in) actually has the long-coveted guest bedroom as well as everything else we wanted. We remain grateful to the person who was obviously murdered here before our arrival. You have kept the rent down and the competition at bay. Ta.

As international Citizens of Nowhere, we have friends and family all over the place and we felt they’d be more likely to visit us if we could promise them some privacy and a soft pillow on which to rest their travel-weary heads. In return, we’d forever have the company of our favorite folk without having to actually go anywhere.

Our sly plan was so successful that the guest bedroom is rarely unoccupied. Almost as soon as we’d moved in, Landis popped over from America and stayed for two months. Even now, I sometimes forget that he doesn’t actually live here anymore and I end up having to eat a whole second serving of “eggs-hummus-toast” (his favourite) all to myself. Please come back, Landis, I am lonely and full.

For all the joy this extra room has brought us, it presents that eternal First World Problem — how to decorate? We want to do something in there because there’s currently a subsidence crack marching down the wall that makes the San Andreas Fault look like a papercut. We also want it to be comfortable for any one of our pals but not so generic that it feels like a Premier Inn.

Unless, of course, the “Premier Inn” we’re talking about is the Overlook Hotel.

Oh yes indeedy. It may be the snow madness setting in, but I’ve been thinking about giving the room a horror-themed makeover. What do you think, reader?

I’ve found the perfect wallpaper for this caper and I’d also like to install an ominous grandfather clock and a fire-damaged Crying Boy.

I’ve even sketched out the design for a “tell-tale heart” mechanism that would not only start beating in the dead of night but also slightly raise-and-sink one of the floorboards to the beat. I got the idea from a whack-a-mole.

You might think it’s my intention with this guestroom to satirize the post-2012 Hostile Environment to Immigrants through the medium of interior design and you’d be right, but the main payoff will be the looks on our friends’ faces when I guide them, tired from the journey, into their promised sanctuary only to encounter what looks like (and is) the brainchild of a dangerous crackpot.

There is no way this is a bad idea. If our friends don’t like it and refuse to come anymore, we can at least sub-let the room through AirBNB to psychopaths who need somewhere to consummate their extra-marital affairs but who don’t want to do so without the eerie presence of fifty china dolls. It’s win-win.

Diary, I will keep you apprised.

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