There’s no room in a British room

IT is 9pm where I am. The sun is still shining.

Actually, not shining; more sort of glimmering. If it was a handshake it would be one of those that drip out of your fingers for want of character.

I am in England where, at this time of year, twilights last longer than a flat beer, in contrast to our own Townsville dusks, that vanish like a slam-dunked basket ball.

And talking of flat beer… where I am it’s also warm.

Just another of the idiosyncrasies of this charming little island community.

Like plastic bowls in the stainless steel kitchen sinks, socks worn with sandals, thongs called flip-flops and beaches made of rocks.

I am staying with friends. I have a bed in the lounge room which folds up during the day into a sofa. I keep telling them that I wouldn’t mind sleeping on it as a sofa, instead of unfolding it every night but they insist.

It’s just such a mission because every time I go to bed we have to move the dining table and the bookcase into the hall. There just isn’t room for them. In fact the rooms over here are so small that the fold-down bed is not really a bed at all, when it’s down. It’s more like a very deep pile wall-to-wall carpet.

And I thought the hall was a bit strange, too.

Why would you open the front door and walk into a corridor?

But then they pointed out that they had to have somewhere to store the raincoats, overcoats, umbrellas, hats, shoes and wellingtons (which are gum boots, but the Poms, ever grateful for a chance to remind you of their aristocracy, named them after the duke who used to go swimming in them).

I asked why they didn’t bung all that stuff in the laundry, but they don’t have laundries. They have a washing machine tucked under a surface in the kitchen.

And when it goes wrong and pours the rinse water all over the floor they just sweep it out the back door, which, presumably, opens into the kitchen for that very purpose.

They haven’t thought up a drain in the floor for the laundry, which they haven’t got anyway, nor in the bathroom, which they have got and which, contrary to popular belief, they do use.

But they don’t shower because they haven’t got one.

It’s all the lack of space: the tiny dining room, no laundry, the bath but no shower. There isn’t the room.

I guess that’s why the fields are small and the roads are so narrow that if you meet a car coming the other way you have to back up three miles before you can pass each other.

But I didn’t realise quite how bad the lack of space was until I was in the pub last night with some of the locals, discussing their dreadful beer, and the dog kennels they live in.

I guess that’s why they told me to go back where I came from…