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【Housemates, Lodgers and Hyacinths】   *要点説明あり

(Contributed by Ben)
I’ve been thinking about housemates and lodgers this week. First of all, I’ll explain the difference between them. A housemate is someone who lives in your house. It’s normally used to describe somebody you’re not related to. So, if students rent a house together, they often describe each other as housemates.
A lodger is slightly different. If you own a house, and you have a spare room, you can get a lodger. The lodger has their own bedroom, and you share the other rooms. Having a lodger is a bit like having a housemate, but the power-balance is less equal. When you’re all housemates, you make the rules together – so the house is a democracy. When you’re a lodger, the landlord is king or queen, so they make the rules.
For a few years, I had housemates. Some of the houses were wonderful, with good friends who lived well together. Some were a lot more difficult and untidy. I think I was probably quite an annoying housemate to begin with. I’m much better now. I’ve learnt how and when to do the washing up.
Now I have a house of my own, so I get to choose who lodges here. I’ve had some wonderful lodgers, but (sadly) they all move away eventually. My last lodger emigrated to America to get married. I get on very well with my current lodgers (and their cat), but they plan to move out soon: they need to live in a more wheelchair-accessible house. This one has too many stairs.
I work from home, so I care a lot about my house, and the people who live in it. The search for a new lodger is a bit scary. It’s made me think about all my old housemates. The good times, and the bad.
I had one housemate who preferred not to pay the rent or the bills. Obviously, this was a problem for everybody! When he was asked to pay the rent, he would recite this poem by John Greenleaf Whittier:
“If thou of fortune be bereft,
And in thine earthly store be left
Two loaves, sell one, and with the dole,
Buy hyacinths to feed thy soul.”
It’s written in quite old-fashioned English, so I’ll explain. The basic gist of the poem is this: if you don’t have any money or luck (if you’re ‘bereft of fortune’), and all you have is two loaves of bread, you should sell one of them, and use the money to buy flowers.
It’s a very nice idea, but my housemate took it too literally. He always had a lot of flowers and beautiful things, but no money; and he ate everybody else’s food. It made life rather difficult for everyone else in the house.
“If thou of fortune be bereft,
And in thine earthly store be left
Two loaves, sell one, and with the dole,
Buy hyacinths to feed thy soul.”
(ジョン・グリーンリーフ・ホィッティア 米国詩人 1807-92)


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