Billy Connolly once said the Queen thinks the world smells of fresh paint – because everywhere she goes someone’s been there 10 minutes earlier with a brush and a bucket of emulsion.
By the same token, foreign exchange students must be under the impression that their host’s houses are permanently cleaner than most operating theatres – as the weekend before their arrival the place is blitzed from top to bottom. We have a polite and charming Spanish exchange student staying with us this week and our house feels like it has had an upgrade.
Even on weekday mornings there is no yelling of the words “SHOES!” and “TEETH!” as we’re on our way out the door as our daughters are on their very best behaviour.
Get this, an assortment of breakfast cereals, pastries and juices are laid out on the kitchen table like some sort of hotel buffet – and we pretend we live like this every day. Under normal circumstances, like in every single house in the country, we communicate through a series of grunts and yells.
But eventually the pretence wears off and if you hang around someone for long enough you eventually just be yourself.
Daughter #1 is studying A level Spanish and daughter #2 is doing it for GCSE, so they can talk to our house guest like the Channel 9 reporters on The Fast Show. But sadly the weather in north west England, especially in February, is not exactly “Scorchio!”
These kids from Spain live where British people go on holiday – where they grow beautiful, succulent oranges like we grow tatty old conkers. They must peer at our dishwater grey skies, huddle up against our biting winds and wonder if they’ll ever see the sunshine again.
But we know that once winter’s over and spring comes around we’ll enjoy some golden rays once more – by hopping on cheap flight to Alicante.
So daughter #1 and her friends organised a load of indoor things for the Spanish kids to do while they’re here. Trafford Centre, bowling, shopping, meals out and the universal hobby of lounging around while staring at their phones.
Very popular, that.