Magazine article New Statesman (1996)

I Went to Great Lengths to Get Rid of Our House Guests-Glen and His Girlfriend, Virginia

Magazine article New Statesman (1996)

I Went to Great Lengths to Get Rid of Our House Guests-Glen and His Girlfriend, Virginia

Article excerpt

In 1976 my friend Glen decided to give up advertising to spend a year teaching English in Sudan. On his return he was supposed to be staying with his brother but they had a row at Heathrow Airport, so Glen phoned and asked if he and his new New Zealander girlfriend, Virginia, could stop for a short while in our spare room in the council tower block where we lived.

When they arrived from the airport, dragging several huge, overstuffed suitcases behind them, Glen and Virginia were both painfully thin and their skin was a bright orange hue. They had picked up a tropical parasite. Both of them spent their first few days back in London in our lavatory.

As the weeks of their stay lengthened, the couple hardly ever went out, but remained in the flat all day, arguing with each other and smoking. After a while me and my wife, Linda, had had enough and we asked Glen and Virginia to move out; but rather than being honest we told them (untruthfully) that our old friend Christine Walker was coming to stay with us indefinitely and she would be needing the room.

Reluctantly the emaciated couple agreed to move out but asked if they could leave their suitcases behind, as the only place they could find to rent was a tiny bed sit with no storage space. This presented us with a problem: one or the other of them would be returning every now and then to pick up stuff from a room in which Chris Walker was supposedly staying. I therefore felt I had to fake Chris's day-to-day presence.

First of all I got some old shoes of Linda's and scattered them around, then I threw some clothes about in a similar fashion. …

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