A Moscow way with curtains…

IT IS early and our latest guest is sitting opposite me, crunching toast. She is from Moscow and will be heading back there later today.

One thing has puzzled me about this visitor. During her stay she has never drawn the curtains. The blind in the room can be tricky and I was worried that she hadn’t worked out what to do. The room faces the road and most people prefer the privacy.

“Ah it is my Moscow ways,” she says when I ask her about this on the first morning. “I live high up in a tower-block and no one can see me. Also, I have views of the beautiful forest in the distant.”

This is the sort of incidental thing that makes Airbnb worth the effort. Who knew that young Russian women didn’t bother with curtains? And not out of exhibitionism but because they like the view and no one could see in anyway.

This guest will be off soon, trundling a suitcase heavier than she is. I am driving the 22-year-old and her new bicycle up to Newcastle. We were out with her in York at a silver wedding party last night and we returned sometime after eleven. Our daughter stayed out with her York friends and returned God knows when. She isn’t up yet.

We wandered through the post-races noise and nuisance like wide-eyed tourists in a strange land. York on a Saturday night is different than in the day.  Loud and raucous, with sirens blaring and racegoers blaring. Men stagger about supported only by their suits. Women stutter on bare feet, carrying their shoes, or bravely pretending they can walk in shoes that make them look ridiculous and cripple their feet at the same time. One middle-aged woman, propped up by her partner, totters and staggers by in a comedy walk that isn’t really very funny. With luck she will have made it to wherever she was going in one piece. When we return home, a glance up confirms that the curtains are open still. Moscow ways again.

So our Airbnb story continues. I read the other day that the Tories like talking up Airbnb, along with Uber, the taxi service, as this showed their modern cred. Or something or other equally as ridiculous. Personally I believe that with Airbnb it was all a misunderstanding. Someone misheard the label.

“Ah,” some Tory probably said, possibly a prime-minister shaped person. “That’s splendid – Heir-bnb. Just what we need to make sure that everything is passed on to all the right people.”

Of course during the Conservative Party conference no one said such a thing. Or not in public at least. There the talk was all of working people and protecting the low paid – while at the same time cutting tax credits. I wonder which face Mr Cameron shows the mirror when he shaves in the morning.

Jeremy Hunt, the health secretary, made great mention of his Chinese wife on this topic, when proclaiming that the tax credit cuts would make us work like the Americans and the Chinese. That would be the Americans whose workers have very little protection and few rights; and the Chinese whose workers have very little protection and even fewer rights.

Mr Hunt, you can be assured, smiles at himself when he shaves, just as a reminder of his own wonderfulness.

Post-conference news broke of the worst potential funding crisis in the NHS. Funny how that didn’t get out until after the Tory party conference. For some reason this brings to mind the following scenario. The big and bulging suitcase of inconvenient news is fit to burst.

“Quick,” someone shouts, “get Eric Pickles to sit on that – and Boris too if you can drag him away from the limelight. There that should do it – don’t want that lot getting out. David’s got this line in his speech about the NHS being there for people seven days a week. At this rate we’ll be lucky if it’s there for them for three days a week. There, that’s done it.”

Whatever actually happened, how suspicious that this news should break just as the Tories were leaving Manchester, a city they return to even though no one there shows them the love.

Our visitor is now ready to leave. Her suitcase seems lighter than when she arrived. “I have thrown stuff away,” she says. And with that she is off, another guest gone.

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