We have Swedish guests visiting and I’ve entered full-blown psycho cleaning/fixing mode. This is after I looked around our house – not with the eyes of someone who has lived in the country for over 20 years – but with the eyes of a Swede. At first glance, the house appeared ok – in the need of a dusting perhaps, but overall not too bad. On second glance I suddenly noticed the little things amiss, like the crumbing ceiling plaster and the fact that the bathroom door-handle falls off if you try to lock it. On third glance – FILTHY DEATH-TRAP!!! Our Swedish friends are normal, Swedish grownups, with a baby to boot, whereas we – by all accounts – are a couple of slipshod savages. There’s a mould-plugged hole in our kitchen counter, but rather than fix it, I have just placed a tile on top of it. Just a loose tile, casually perched on top of what is probably the equivalent of an e-coli/norovirus speed-dating disco. With one week to go until our guests arrive I am now trying to put the house in order, which of course is an impossible task. I’ve been hysterically painting skirting boards, while just above me the wallpaper is peeling off in long strips. I have been scrubbing the front door for a more inviting welcome, ignoring the fact that the garden gate is only limply held together by a layer of moss. I called my mother for moral support, knowing that she went through similar bouts of panic when she lived in the UK. She, however, has now adopted a more phlegmatic approach. ‘It’s not your fault, it’s the British climate,’ she promised, adding ‘You’ll be in the pub anyway, so it won’t matter,’ proving once more just what a kind and insightful woman she really is.