Thought you’d had house guests from HELL? Then read the stories of the one who was sick in a dog basket, another who left early in a huff and a third who climbed naked into bed with her hosts
- UK-based Mail writers revealed their worst experiences with house guests
- Among the stories is a journalist who fell into Jane Alexander’s bed naked
- Liz Jones, 62, remembers a guest who asked for her cats to be shut outside
Last week, in Femail magazine, Claudia Connell listed 25 reasons why she loathes staying overnight in anyone’s home. ‘It struck a chord with readers, who commented online or emailed me to say that, secretly, they hate it, too,’ she says. ‘But having people to stay with you is no picnic, either. I once hosted a girl from New Zealand who brought a strange man home from the pub for sex.’ Here, a selection of Mail writers reveal their worst-ever house guests.
SHE SNEAKED INTO OUR BED
Jane Alexander, 61, is an author and lifestyle journalist who lives in Exeter.
I’ve had many iffy house guests over the years, and the common denominator is always an excess of alcohol. I serve too much; they drink too much; it all gets messy.
However, the one that really scorched my memory was in the early 2000s. My husband Adrian and I had sold our Georgian rectory on the Somerset Levels (house guest catnip) and embraced our inner Wuthering Heights, buying a house in the middle of Exmoor for us, our newborn baby and a psychotic terrier.
A selection of UK-based Mail writers reveal their worst experiences with house guests – including Jane Alexander, 61, who had a visitor fall into her bed naked (stock image)
Suddenly our diary was bare. Nobody wanted to visit, and, to be honest, who could blame them? So when a journalist (let’s call her Kate) asked if she could stay after interviewing me about my new book, I said she’d be very welcome.
It all started off so well. Adrian cooked paella and I poured G&Ts. We chatted about films, books and living in the country. Kate sank her gin pretty swiftly, so I poured her another — and another.
Adrian and I stopped drinking (hangovers and babies don’t mix), but as Kate polished off her second bottle of wine, she started telling us, in explicit detail, about her disastrous love life. The oversharing reached a crescendo when she grabbed our hands and sobbed: ‘I haven’t had sex for over two years! I’m absolutely gasping for it.’
‘Er, I think the dog needs to go out,’ said Adrian. When he returned, Kate was sprawled over the sofa, snuffling, snoring and dribbling.
We manhandled her into the recovery position, popped a blanket over her and went to bed.
But halfway through the night, I woke up to find an arm snaking over my shoulder and a hand cupping my breast. ‘Adrian, stop it — I’m shattered.’
Jane (pictured) said her house guest Kate, sobbed about her love life after polishing off her second bottle of wine
‘Huh? I’m not doing anything,’ came his bleary reply.
Adrian flipped the light switch. A naked Kate sprung out of the bed. I screamed. Our infant son started wailing. Kate scuttled away muttering: ‘Sorry, wrong room.’
Come morning, she had upped and left. A note said simply: ‘Thanks for a great night!’
Not being the hottest house-party ticket suddenly seemed like the best thing in the world.
DRUNK — AND 2 HOURS LATE
Lucy Cavendish, 54, is a journalist and counsellor who lives in Buckinghamshire.
Lucy Cavendish, 54, who lives in Buckinghamshire, hasn’t spoken to her friend since she came to visit with a friend who vomited in her dog basket (stock image)
A few years ago, my really good friend asked if she could come and stay with her new boyfriend. She’d been having a difficult time and I wanted her to have a relaxed weekend at my comfortable home in the countryside.
I told her I was pretty tired (four children will do that to you), but she promised to bring food and wine. ‘We’ll have a great time,’ she said.
That Friday, I waited and waited. Eventually — two hours late — she turned up with her boyfriend and four other friends. But there was no food to be seen and just half a bottle of wine as they’d drunk the other bottles on the way down.
Lucy (pictured) said she asked her visitors to leave, when they woke up in the evening of the next day
I had told them there was no shop in the village, but they had no more alcohol with them, nor the cigarettes they were so desperate to have. One man kept saying: ‘Where’s your wine cellar?’
I suggested they go to the supermarket a few miles away. Instead they headed for the local pub, where they cadged cigarettes off everyone, bought wine and ran up a huge tab — all under my name. They also annoyed the locals.
When they came back, drunk and rowdy, they moaned about the supper I had made.
As the night wore on, one threw up in the dog basket while another tried to give my 16-year-old a lecture about the joys of hallucinogens. The next day, they didn’t get up until the early evening.
I asked them to leave. My friend and I haven’t spoken since.
RUDE TO ME AND MY CATS!
Columnist Liz Jones, 62, lives in North Yorkshire.
Living in London, I’d never had a house guest. No need, as all my friends lived nearby.
But when, in 2007, I got divorced and moved to a 50-acre farm on the edge of Exmoor, I found myself — single, but with cats and two rescued horses — a bit lonely.
One of my best friends had just had a baby, so I suggested she and her husband drive down for a long weekend on their way to see family in Cornwall. Big mistake.
Liz Jones, 62, from North Yorkshire, had a guest who asked for her cats to be shut outside (stock image)
I made up a lovely bed in a spare room and bought the baby a beautiful cashmere blanket and a Brora cardie.
My friends arrived late, and with so much luggage I thought they were moving in permanently. After an age, they came downstairs.
‘We’re not used to being in a house with no heating. We do have a baby [as if I hadn’t noticed]. Could you put it on? And maybe you have a portable radiator that can go in the room as well?’
Liz (pictured) said she hasn’t spoken to her house guest since their encounter
Bear in mind that it was August. But I said OK. Then the husband said: ‘Who is the cat with no tail and one eye?’
I started to fill them in on his history, but was cut short. ‘It’s just, we don’t allow pet hair near the baby. Cats have been known to sit on babies’ faces as well. Could you shut them outside?’
We went into the garden for tea with scones, jam and cream from the local deli. I made a comment about not knowing which should go on first, cream or jam, given we were in Somerset. ‘Oh, no,’ the husband said. ‘I think you’ll find you live in Devon.’ As if I didn’t know my own address!
He then asked: ‘Why do you have such a big garden when you don’t have children?’
They were never invited back. I don’t think I’ve spoken to them since. I never did see the child in the cardie.
SHE REWASHED FRESH SHEETS
Eleanor Mills, 50, is a journalist and founder of noon.org.uk, a new platform for women. She lives in North London with her husband Derek, 55.
We were so excited they were coming — our old friend John, his new American wife Jean and toddler Rosie from California.
John had been my partner-in-fun as a teen, but had been living in the U.S. for a decade.
In honour of his visit, I invited a couple of other friends who’d been in our gang back then and secured a precious weekend at my family’s bolthole in the Cotswolds, a small red-brick cottage overlooking wheat fields and a rambling village. It was primitive but cosy, with log fires and no neighbours. It was my happy place.
Eleanor Mills, 50, who lives in North London, had a house guest who insisted in washing her fresh bedding and wouldn’t allow their children to play together (stock image)
Arriving a day early, we cleaned the cottage from top to bottom and put fresh sheets on the beds.
When they arrived, John seemed his old self, bearded and jovial. His wife looked like a pale giraffe.
My husband suggested a walk and, in the hubbub to set out, I didn’t notice Jean and Rosie weren’t with us.
On our return, the washing machine was shaking the utility room. But we hadn’t put a wash on. I peered into the drum. White sheets with blue flowers — the ones I’d laundered and brought specially for John and Jean’s bed. How dare she!
‘Are Jean and Rosie coming down for lunch?’ I asked an hour later, when everyone else was served. He wouldn’t meet my eye.
‘Ummm. Jean noticed your kids are snuffly and theirs [he pointed to another mate’s children] are coughing. We don’t want Rosie to get sick, so we’re going to keep her upstairs.’
Eleanor (pictured) said her husband gave her a hug as their guests rumbled down the drive
‘Oh,’ I said. Inside I was raging. Lunch was tense. Eventually one of the others blurted out: ‘John, we’re hurt you won’t let Rosie play with our kids.’
Through the window a gaggle of children roared round the garden, waving sticks, laughing. There was an awkward silence.
‘Ummm,’ said John, who had the grace to blush. ‘I think we are going to go back to my parents’ house tonight.’
As they rumbled down the drive, my husband gave me a hug: ‘NTBAA list,’ he said. I laughed.
It was a family joke: Never To Be Asked Again. It had never been more apt.
OLD BRA LEFT BY THE FRIDGE
Harry Mount, 49, is a journalist and author who lives in North London.
It was the least erotic bra I’d ever seen.
Waking up in my flat, I found the off-white underwear on my kitchen floor, next to the fridge.
There was only one suspect: an old university friend who had been sleeping on my sofabed for a few days.
‘Is this yours?’ I said to her when she woke up.
Harry Mount, 49, (pictured) from North London, had a friend who left her bra by the fridge
‘Yes,’ she replied, as if the incident was utterly normal. ‘I was undressing when I felt like a midnight snack.’
She’d dropped the bra on her nocturnal journey to the fridge for bread and cheese.
It got worse. Contrary to my instructions — she later angrily said I should have printed out my rules — she left a soaked bathmat and towels on the bathroom floor three days in a row.
I begged her not to bring friends back to my flat.
In my mid-30s at the time, I had a difficult job, getting up at 5am, and didn’t want to come home to make small talk with a stranger.
But on her second day, she invited a pal over for dinner.
I then went away with work for a few days and told her I’d be home on Wednesday evening. I said she could stay in my bedroom while I was away, rather than on the lumpy sofabed, but that she must leave on Wednesday afternoon.
I arrived home at 11.30pm to find her asleep in my bed, with her boyfriend. I spent the night, utterly furious, on the lumpy sofabed.
She was, to be fair, very apologetic the next morning and promised to be gone by the time I got home that evening.
They were gone. But they’d left the remnants of a Chinese takeaway strewn across the coffee table: fragments of greasy prawn crackers were scattered everywhere next to little plastic bags of leftover Peking duck and egg-fried rice.
A PEER AND HIS PLUMBING PAINS
Broadcaster and author Rachel Johnson, 55, lives in Somerset with her husband, Ivo, 68.
Rachel Johnson, 55, (pictured) who lives in Somerset, said her old friend left her house swiftly after a situation with her bathroom
A few summers ago, I invited some old friends — one a member of the House of Lords — to stay for a long weekend.
They had found the conditions ‘primitive’ on their last visit, but I promised we’d really pushed the boat out on the home improvements since then.
‘It’s almost habitable,’ I assured them, as I outlined the rebuilding of the asbestos-ridden extension, the lifting of the ceiling in the kitchen so you could stand up and — best of all — the installation of a downstairs loo, giving guests a choice of no less than three WCs (though none en suite). Unfortunately, the noble Lord clearly hadn’t got the memo that he and the lady wife would still not have their own bathroom.
He went white when we showed him back to his old bedchamber, and even whiter when Ivo said: ‘Here’s your bathroom . . . and still my bathroom and everyone else’s bathroom, ha ha!
‘By the way, as I warned in my email, unfortunately we’re in the middle of a drought, and as we’re on private supply, there’s almost an ablutions ban.’
Nothing was said on day one, but by day two his pinched face and muttered asides to his wife suggested there was trouble at t’mill. In the hope of easing the problem, we all agreed the downstairs lavatory was to be reserved exclusively for his use.
But Ivo took to shouting, ‘Are you in your Peer’s Loo?’ whenever he went past, which only made things worse.
They left on the Monday and he swiftly emailed to thank us for our hospitality (from a service station on the M4, where he had finally achieved relief): ‘The lack of water supply (as alleged) resulted in a great deal of restraint on all our parts.’
Still, they have already hinted they might drop in this summer. Which is a worry, as we have still not — despite the panic this seems to cause among male guests — made any bedroom en suite.
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