Contrary to general opinion most people that work here are generally pretty skint, Sara Beetroot who sits across from me actually keeps a spreadsheet to monitor her daily in and out goings (money, not the other sort) and if things fall in the red she pleads poverty and a bad foot and forces me to buy her tea and food. Bearing this all in mind you might be unsurprised to realise that it’s not uncommon for staff here to augment their income using other means.
There are those who choose to make jewellery from bits of old rabbit hutch and hawk them on e-bay as examples of original San bushman shaman regalia. There are those who choose to give massages with or without happy endings behind the bike sheds (yes we do have bike sheds, yes you can get behind them, no there is generally no happy ending) and there are those who take an altogether more perilous route and open up their homes to foreign students.
They say an Englishman’s home is his castle which in my case is quite accurate. My house is falling down, I have birds nesting in the ruined chimney and my porch bears a frightening resemblance to a drawbridge that has been ravaged by a marauding band of Vikings. Take all that into account though and I can heave a huge sigh of relief that what I do not have is a lost fourteen year old Columbian boy in national dress wandering round at night looking for the toilet!
The thought of having my house invaded by homesick foreign teenagers makes me want to pull my teeth out…….through my arse! Teenagers are rather like the Albanians, lazy, surly and smelly with random mood and opinion swings and a penchant for never changing their socks. Imagine all that coupled with an inability to speak our language and the need to clean up after them and make their breakfast and dinner everyday and you are starting to see how the marauding Vikings are looking like the more attractive option, not that I find blonde beardy men in armour and pointy helmets arousing I’d like to add!
So anyway I have decided to come up with some fun uses for foreign students, aside from the money of course that could make their stay with you constructive and enjoyable, for you at least.
Dress them up and fight them – for example if you have a Spaniard and a Russian staying (they tend to split up nationalities by the way) you could dress the Ivan as a bull and give Pedro a cape and some skewers, hours of fun! Bored with that then you can play Chechen insurgents…. All you need is a fur hat for each of them, some sharpened spoons and a media blackout. You could always ask for specific nationalities for a specific historical event, do you have a hankering to re-enact the battle of Stalingrad? Simply ask for a German (or Hungarian) and a Russian …..simples……
Teach them the wrong words for things – They are here to learn and learn they shall, its just funnier if you teach them that the name for a kettle is ‘Darth Vader’ and the way to ask someone the time is to say ‘please, my buttocks hurt, do you have any margarine?’
Play Mind Games – hide fake body parts in the fridge and a chainsaw behind the sofa. Measure them up with a measuring tape when they arrive and start to build a coffin in the lounge. After the first day when they arrive back from school dress up as a pirate and pretend you have no idea who they are. You are only constrained by your imagination and how quickly the police can find someone to translate the 999 call and send a car round.
When I started writing this I was dead against opening my doors to students and wanted to poke fun at those who do, but the more I think about it the more uses I can find for them and the more I am warming to the idea of being paid to have a pet that I can give back when I get bored. The only sticking point, not sure Mrs. D will have the same outlook as me.