Originally in my Wiltshire Blog
On the benefits of extending hospitality to friends from far away.
“If it were not for guests all houses would be graves,” wrote Kahlil Gabran. I believe ‘grave’ is an adequate description.
I have been into houses where it is evident I am the first guest in many years. The place often feels like the neglected wing of a museum: lifeless, sombre, and neat.
Throughout history and in most cultures, hospitality has been an important social function. In ancient Greece it was a sacred duty to accept passing strangers into your home. The same was true of the Middle Eastern cultures; a tradition which is said to continue to this day.
When Macbeth deliberates over killing King Duncan, he does so not only because he is Duncan’s subject but also because he is his host, “Who should against his murderer shut the door, / Not bear the knife myself.”
It is with this ancient tradition in mind that I welcomed two friends from Japan to my home in Wiltshire last weekend, and played the part of host as best I can.
Chieko and Shigeru are in a band called Eddy, and they have come to the UK to play live gigs in London and Scotland. I arranged their gigs in and around London and managed to get them three gigs; the remaining two are happening on 1 July in Guildford and 2 July in Brixton.
As a sign of thanks they gave me four cans of Japanese beer and a yukata. I drank the first beer during the England v. Germany game. I drank the remaining three immediately afterwards.
One of the great things about having guests from abroad is that they see all the things you are used to with fresh eyes.
Watching Chieko and Shigeru take photos of Devizes Marketplace made me think that rather than go on holiday to escape a place you are bored with, you should try inviting guests from another land.
They will be fascinated by all the things you take for granted, and their fascination may spread to you.
Chieko and Shigeru enjoyed the easygoing pace of the countryside and said they felt refreshed as we drove them to Great Bedwyn train station, passing the Pewsey white horse and Wilton Windmill on the way.
Returning to Devizes, I was surprised to meet a flock of sheep crossing the road. As I dug out my camera for a few pictures I thought that this probably happens every day in Wiltshire.
“But not to me”, my mind countered, as I took half a dozen photos of sheep.
If you would like to see Eddy live, they will be playing at The Row Barge in Guildford on the evening of Thursday 1 July, and at The Windmill in Brixton on the evening of Friday 2 July. For Edinburgh dates please enquire to t.f.mellors [at] gmail.com