SUZANNE HARRINGTON: From Lithuania with love: our last-minute lodger

Having not made it onto the Sunday Times Rich List again, you could well find yourself pimping your spare room out.

It’s a lot like internet dating — you upload an old photo of the room before it was ravaged by time and kids, making sure the picture is taken from a cunning angle to make it look wider (okay, not quite like internet dating), and then carefully photoshopping out all the dents, stains, blemishes and wear-and-tear (actually, just like internet dating). You might even nick the vase of flowers from the sitting room to stick in the spare room for the photo, the way CGI effects are added to films.

Then you have to write a profile for your room that strikes just the right balance of come-hither, without attracting every homeless nutter in town. So for every ‘Free Sky Sports’, there will be a ‘No Party Animals’ underlined in bold; bills may be included, but only for dog lovers who don’t mind kids or cats either. It’s tricky.

Uploading a photo of your dogs can prevent confusion later on, unless a potential lodger neglects to read the advert properly and freaks out on your doorstep when confronted by two sets of slavering, slobbering jaws and industrial-strength waggy tails.

The first contender does exactly this. Newly arrived from bankrupt Spain, you can see the visual part of his brain scanning the room, looking in vain for the immaculate paintwork and non-existent flowers. When the dogs appear, the colour drains from his face. Never mind, we reassure him. We have futbol. La Liga. You’ll feel right at home.

“I am no like futbol,” he says, as the dogs lick him energetically. “Please tell jur dogs I am no like dogs.” Oh dear. Adios.

Next is Miss Athens, who has come from bankrupt Greece to seek her fortune. She seems fine until she says that she has just broken up from her boyfriend and is prone to extended crying jags while staring at his photo. I don’t know the Greek for adios, but we convey it. A chain-smoking Spaniard is similarly dispatched, as are an Italian couple who try to persuade me to buy one, get one free.

You get loads. All from variously skint countries in Europe. All who say they are non-smokers. (Smokers think non-smokers can’t smell it on them. Newsflash: we can). On the verge of shutting up shop for the day, a last-minute Lithuanian arrives. “Vow,” he says when he sees the scruffy paintwork and gap where the flowers should be. “Wery nice.” He barely flinches when the dogs launch themselves at his crotch.

Lithuania has the highest suicide rate in the world, and the highest murder rate in the EU. Statistically, leaving Lithuania would put you in a better mood than leaving, say, Spain or Greece. On this basis, and the fact that he is not fazed by big dogs head-butting his trousers, he moves in Tuesday.


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