Susan Morrison: sink or swim for hapless hostess

Woman washing and cleaning.
Woman washing and cleaning.
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A guid New Year to yin an’ aw! The holidays are not yet over, of course, so it is possible that you’ll be doing a bit of visiting. So, here are a few tips for the considerate guests.

As you walk through the front door, note how beautiful, tidy and clean the house is.

The carpet will bear evidence of intense Olympic standard hoovering. There will be the scent of lemon – possibly pine – furniture polish in the air. The glasses waiting for your drinks will be gleaming; the telly screen will be reflecting serious light and even the cat will looked brushed.

The hostess will be smiling, the children will be shining and the host will look more relaxed than the love child of Bing Crosby and Dean Martin.

Do not be fooled. These people are under the sort of stress that causes lesser beings to run berserk through supermarkets tearing their clothes off screaming about alien landings and government conspiracies. To be fair, that sort of thing barely raises an eyebrow in Leith. These people have been cleaning. Or they have been cleaned.

Look closely. Watch your hostess’s eyes. That’s right. She may be smiling as she hands you the shortbread, but her constant shooting glances to the cupboard behind the armchair tell you all you need to know.

You remember those submarine movies you watched on a Sunday afternoon, usually involving Burt Lancaster and Clark Gable?

Remember the moment when the depth charges were booming around them and the watertight doors have been closed, but the pressure is building and someone shouts ‘She’s gonna blow!’ and it does, and all the water comes in, but it’s OK, because the Japanese now think they’ve sunk the sub? Remember that bit? Well, that cupboard door is under exactly the same pressure.

Behind that door lies a year’s worth of gunk, junk and Sunday supplements. There are old mobile phones, broken remote controls and at least three half used packets of double A batteries. And it’s not just that door.

It’s only the sheer will of your hostess that keeps all those doors closed.

Advice for my new year guests

Do not rummage around the house, good guests. When directed to the bathroom, admire the sheen. You could probably carry out major surgery on that floor. Do not give into the urge to open that wee door under the sink. There are things rusting in there, my friend, that could catch your eye and follow you home. And do not peek into the gloom of the rooms with the half-closed doors. There is a reason why those curtains are drawn and it’s not because they have a vampire as an unexpected guest.

And never, ever look under the bed.

Nervous Ugg girl’s proposal is 21st century diplomacy

Number 22 bus, coming back from town. The only seats left were the ones with the back to the driver, or, as they have increasingly become, the backseat footstools. A mother asked the young lady resting her Uggs to take her feet off the seat, so she and her daughter could sit down.

The young lady in question did so, but this request triggered the ire of a second young lady – no connection to the first – who immediately reared up to defend the Ugg wearer.

This second young lady was most remarkably orange and most extraordinarily angry, a dangerous combination in the past.

This is a girl who goes looking for a fight and rarely fails to find one.

Loudly she asserted that “naebuddy should be telt where tae pit their feet. Everybody pits thur feet up oan the seat. Eh?”

It was like the “I’m Spartacus” scene, as the words “I don’t”, “I don’t”, “I don’t” came from all over the bus. The orange warrior started to swell with fury. It was like being faced down by a giant Cheesy Wotsit. Just at the moment when I thought we’d all go under in a welter of bile and fake tan, the Ugg-wearing young lady suddenly unplugged herself from her headphones, looked about and said “don’t bother about me, I’m going ask someone to marry me tonight and I’m just that nervous, so I am”.

The tension blew like a deflating helium balloon. The whole bus started giving advice, proffering good wishes and smiling benevolently.

Except the Clementine Queen, who stormed off, having been denied the chance of a last stand, presumably on the seats, since she had a perfect right to put her feet on them.

Now, I thought, how handy. If only we could deal with all international tensions like that.

The minute it gets a bit eyeball-to-eyeball, have a lovely young person pop up and announce they’re about to propose to someone. Bet both sides would fall over to advise, celebrate and thus discover they have way more in common than differences.

Leith... providing diplomatic solutions for the 21st century.