There are many charming, heartwarming stories featuring gracious, openhanded hosts and grateful, affectionate houseguests. The sort of tales that make you feel good about humanity and foster a spirit of togetherness.
No, of course this isn't one of those stories. What kind of blog do you think I'm running here, anyway?
Meet Wilfred Harte. Most of us only dream of doing this to guests who wear out their welcome. Mr. Harte seized the day and struck a blow--not to mention a match--for overcrowded misanthropes everywhere. This account appeared in the "Gettysburg Times" on January 25, 1993:
A pensioner set fire to his home to get rid of four in-laws who had come for a three-day visit and stayed for three months. Wilfred Harte, 61, was found guilty of arson at his maisonette in Walworth, southeast London, and sentenced to serve three years in prison.
Before he set the fire, Harte made sure his dog, Tweek, was safe. He then told police, "It was a very good blaze. I felt quite euphoric."
The court was told that Harte, married for 20 years to his wife, Peggy, was furious at the behavior of unwanted guests who he said had taken over his home. "They never wanted to go to bed at night. They stayed up watching TV until 5 a.m. on a regular basis. My electric bills were doubled. I paid the rent, taxes and all the other expenses and felt it wasn't my home anymore. Finally, when it dawned on me that they might never leave, I decided to do something drastic."
As his wife and her relatives slept, Harte poured 5 gallons of petrol on the floors and set fire to it. The court was told that only through extraordinary good fortune was no one seriously injured.
Another story gave the additional information that to escape the blaze, Harte's stepson had to jump to safety with his pajamas on fire. Don't bother trying to find photographs of that sight, you can be assured I already looked.
So Harte not only got a stretch in a nice, quiet cell well away from his relatives, he undoubtedly was never pestered by houseguests again.
He probably felt he came out pretty well from the business.