After a tense two week stand-off, the Balham Airbnb Crisis has been resolved. My upstairs neighbour and I have drawn back from the brink. He has agreed to let me station bed and breakfast guests in my main bedroom. I have agreed to pay slightly higher building insurance contributions.
By the time we signed the new direct debit forms, we had brought Balham to the brink of world war three. The biggest irony is, now it’s all sorted, I’m not so sure I want to do Airbnb. I’m not sure my nerves will stand it.
My latest guest, a girl from Taiwan, arrived on Sunday afternoon when I was out doing the horses. I had hidden a key and messaged her to call me when she got there. I talked her through where the key was, and though it took her quite a while, she found it.
But no matter how hard I tried to explain to her how to use the key she couldn’t get the door open.
‘Put the key in the hole, and turn it,’ was the best I could come up with. Then as she struggled, I managed to think of: ‘Anti-clockwise.’
‘Oh? Anti-…?’ she said, sounding as if she was about to burst into tears. ‘Turn it to the left.’ ‘Oh! Left!’ she said, sounding a bit happier. Then: ‘Oh. No.’
I was at a loss. ‘Maybe if you knock on next door and ask the neighbour to help,’ I started. Then I thought, oh dear me no. Old Khrushchev upstairs will be parking his tanks on my lawn if my B&B visitors bother him.
So I begged her to keep trying and she kept doing something with the key which wasn’t opening the door and saying: ‘Oh! No.’
I had an American family who couldn’t open the door once.