Last week I hosted my first house-party at my holiday lodge in Cornwall. For the first time ever (drumroll), in a mixed group of married and single people sharing accommodation (trumpets), I slept in the master bedroom, and in a king-sized bed in glorious solitude (applause).
As a single person (I’m sure I’ve mentioned this before), and host to staying guests at home, the question of where everyone will sleep has been at the top of my planning agenda. If married people were staying with me in my bijou one-bedroomed garden flat in London N4, or my 3 bedroomed triplex in Leamington Spa, I would clearly be required to vacate my bedroom for them. I talk in Solo Success about how we singletons are good at treating ourselves as second class citizens. There is no better example of this than the numerous times I inconvenienced myself by giving up my double-bedded bedroom, with all my personal things around it, to my married guests, and slept on the sofa-bed in the sitting room. I did this even when I was in a relationship for goodness sake, and so also inconvenienced my partner. What was I thinking??
As a guest visiting friends and family, the big issue was where I would be expected to sleep. Would I be allocated my own bedroom or even an actual bed? Probably not: the circumstances in which either could happen depended on guest relationship status, and guest to bed ratio. For example, house guests = 3, 2 of whom are married to each other; bedroom = 1 with a double bed. BUT, there is also a put-you-up in a tiny study. Guess where the singleton – ie me – would be sleeping? From a sleeping bag on the floor, through the above mentioned put-you-ups, camp beds, single futons, fold out foam chair-beds, airbeds and the most uncomfortable sofa-beds in the world, I’ve slept on them all. Where? Mainly in rooms designed for other purposes, like the study, a sitting room, a loft that hadn’t been converted, a recording studio, a conservatory, underneath the dining room table or a strip in the middle of a small child’s bedroom stuffed with spookily sightless-eyed soft toys.
The partner-less have all had the same experience at some point in their lives – before, in-between or after an ‘other half’ has departed. There’s no getting away from it, society has treated the single house-guest as a second class citizen purely on the basis of relationship status. And I don’t see any recent improvement. Last year, I arranged to stay with relatives for the weekend. As the only house guest, I was sure to get the spare (double) bedroom. But when other, married, relatives decided to muscle in at the last minute, I found myself relegated to the downstairs sofa-bed, while my married relatives were allocated the double bedroom. The sofa-bed was large and very comfortable. But that was not the point: my own family denied me the right to a double room for single occupancy even though I booked it first.
The Sunday Times (ST) journalist Josh Glancy wrote in his recent ST Magazine column that, “It’s time for the singles of the world finally to be given the keys to the master bedroom.” I’m sorry to have to tell you Josh, but no-one is going to give the keys to us anytime soon. The singletons of the world are going to have to work out how to be in charge of the bedroom allocation – at home and when staying away with other people. At the top of this piece I said that I hosted my first holiday house-party. To be able to do that, I invested to become a key-holder for a holiday lodge with 3 bedrooms, and access for a number of weeks over a number of years. I know that I’m lucky in my single middle age, to be able to do something that is nigh on impossible for younger, single people to do, when they cannot afford to buy their own home in most major cities of the world. But they can rent a place for a weekend or longer, for a break with friends and family. The person in charge, who finds the place and makes the booking, also allocates the bedrooms, and gives him/herself the great room.
To get the key to the master bedroom Josh, just like me, you have to have the key to the front door.