Experience: I found a stranger in my front room
It was early on a Monday morning, about 5.30am, and I’d got up to use the toilet. Afterwards, I nipped into the kitchen to get a drink. As I stood at the sink, I could hear snoring from the living room. At first I thought it was the dog. Then I realised it wasn’t. I went into the room to find a stranger asleep on the sofa. He was wearing a grey Adidas tracksuit and, bizarrely, only one shoe. I stood there in my shorts and T-shirt, staring at him.
My immediate reaction was fear. I live in a modern block of four flats on a busy road in Kilmarnock, about 20 miles south of Glasgow. The main door to the block is a buzzer-entry, secure entrance. My front door is also locked and the dog, a labradoodle called Molly, normally barks like anything when anyone comes through the door. You’d have to really know what you were doing to break in.
My eldest daughter lives with me, and my younger girls, Emily and Eva, stay regularly, and were with me that night. I ran upstairs to check on them. All good – they were asleep. I was determined to resolve this calmly. I didn’t want the girls waking up to find a disturbance or any unpleasantness.
I went back downstairs, took a deep breath and composed myself. I decided to wake the stranger. I went over and gave him a wee shake. “Hey,” I said. He just grunted at me. I gave him a bigger shake. He roused a bit, but I could tell he was hammered.
I bent down and shouted at him. He bolted upright, spluttering and looking a bit wild. He asked me who I was. I asked him how he’d got in, but he just looked confused. He asked me what town he was in. When I told him he was in Kilmarnock, he looked shocked. It turned out he was from Dalkeith, 70 miles away.
We swore loudly together and laughed. I asked him for about the fourth time how he’d got into my house. He said he had no idea. Then he looked at his feet. He asked me if I had his other shoe. By this time I was properly laughing and my fear had disappeared.
Jason (he’d remembered his name at least) sat up on the sofa and spent a few minutes scratching his head trying hard to work out what was going on. He was still roaring drunk. The smell coming off him was unbelievable. I own a pub and Kilmarnock’s main nightclub, so routinely deal with drunk customers, but he was the most confused I’ve seen any human being.
I asked him how he’d got from Dalkeith to Kilmarnock. He told me he’d been out in Glasgow with his mate, Fergie. When he said that name, I stopped dead. My block of flats backs on to another, similar, block – almost identical to mine – where an old acquaintance, also called Fergie, lives.
I took him into the kitchen and showed him the block. We pieced together that we both knew the same bloke, that they’d been out drinking in Glasgow and must have got the train home together. What happened then was anyone’s guess. We agreed that he’d try to get back to Fergie’s. If he couldn’t (it was still only 6am) he’d come back to mine. He took one of my dog-walking shoes and left the flat.
A bit later, I took the dog for a walk. There, on my neighbour’s doorstep, was his lost shoe.
The rest of the morning I puzzled over how this could have happened. My neighbours all say the door was shut and no one recalls letting him in. I do know how he got into my flat, though: my oldest daughter, who is 21, had “nipped out” on Sunday evening. Expecting her back, I’d gone upstairs to watch a film with the little ones and then fallen asleep, leaving the door shut – but unlocked. She’d stayed out.
What is weird was the reaction of Molly, our dog. She should have alerted me to the fact that there was a drunkard in my house. But he was obviously a dog-lover and had given her a cuddle. She went back to sleep – officially the worst guard dog in the world.
Jason came back to swap shoes later that day. He got my phone number from our mutual friend and (extremely apologetically) asked if he could come round. He had to ask for my address, which seemed hilarious, given he’d just spent the night on my sofa.
• As told to Camilla Palmer.