Like many 65-year-olds, I was rattling round the house that our family had grown up in, with my two Bengal cats, Poppadum and Tikka Masala. First my Mrs had traded me in for a new model, a year after I took early retirement. Then my lovely daughters left for medical school and, for one, marriage and a delightful first grandson for me! Just me and the cats left.

First the bad, then the good news: they all left, but I’m still rattling around this big old house. The cats are still here – and they get to go where they used not to be allowed ….

But what are the young ones who work around here doing? They could be living at Mum and Dad’s Hotel, of course: but what if the aged parents have decamped to Marbella? There aren’t many cheap flats around in this part of Surrey.

Then I heard about Step-by-Step (https://www.stepbystep.org.uk/) Their ‘supported lodgings’ scheme matches young people who need places to live with people who have a spare room which they’re prepared to share. It’s not a formal letting; one is simply taking a lodger. If it doesn’t work out, you’re in charge and can gently kick them out.

It’s a great idea. I thought I’d forgotten about teenagers – but now I’ve got a fine one in one of my spare bedrooms. He moves in mysterious ways: gets up mid-afternoon and then works night shifts for a bit. Then he just sleeps. He feeds on pizza except when I press a steak on him. Despite all that, he’s fine company. He even feeds the cats when I go off to visit my daughters. Result! Much better than talking to myself, or occasionally to the (lovely) cats …

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