For the past few months, we have had a lodger, my wife's brother. He's exactly the same age as me, and does exactly the same sort of work - IT prostitution for large financial clients. In fact, at the moment, the same large financial client. Opportunities at home were a bit sparse, so he took up a contract with Regal Bond of Scotia, and I had my arm twisted in the now familiar spouse-lock into inviting him into our home while he's working up here in Scotland.
I was a bit put out by the idea at first. After three years, I had only just acclimatised to sharing a home with another person, and even then, with regular fairly lively negociation about, say, where to store cooking matches, or what the optimum settings on the washing machine are. But I'm very fond of brother-in-law. Like father-in-law, he seemed to accept me as the bloke in Helen's life overnight, and we have a very matter-of-fact, almost mute fraternity.
The main sacrifice was our spare bedroom, or as I'd come to think of it "drying room, and meditative retreat", which is now a terrifying batchelor pad, strewn with programming manuals and technological wonders, entwined with USB cables. Because the great thing about brother-in-law is that rather than spending his evenings on the sofa, changing the channels on my bloody telly, eating strange food and farting, he retreats to his hermitage and gets all his entertainment by WLAN and broadband. So on the day he arrived, I gave him a spare set of keys, and took his wireless MAC addresses, and off he went. It's as simple as that.
Better yet, he eats what's put in front of him (to eat, obviously, not absolutely everything), offers to make cups of tea every hour, and dresses so radically differently from me that our washing never gets mixed up. Furthermore, because he eats what we eat, when we eat it, it's no harder to cook for three than for two, and we have the bonus of a third party to enliven mealtimes.
Are there any drawbacks? Well, the Waltons/Boswells style roundtable of the day's events over dinner seems to take a lot longer, and my own slot is cut down to one third of a mealtime, so I have less opportunity to talk about myself. And I can't wonder around the house naked and scratching my dangly bits at all hours of the night. Helen does not espcially see the latter as a drawback. Or the former, if I'm honest.
I think I could cope with this indefinitely. At this rate, we'll be starting a commune soon.