Spare-room database too close for comfort

Reader Michael J. Forbes, who should not be confused with Hollywood superstar Michael J. Fox, wrote in to congratulate Computer Weekly on its “national spare room database” April Fool story. But he warned that sometimes, life can imitate art.

“You may be interested to learn that this did happen in the 1930s. Our family, including our grandmother, rented a house in Manchester, and despite our mother having two very young children (one being myself), they were obliged to take in a lady refugee from Europe. There was no choice in this matter – it was mandatory. The compensation did not cover the additional heating, lighting and cooking costs. Please do not give the present bunch of blighters any ideas.”

If the company of strange European ladies is price the UK has to pay for sharing its rooms, then who is Downtime to stand in the way of progress?