For some reason, last night I was remembering the time about 35 years ago, when I was living in a small flat here and used to occasionally put up complete strangers who had nowhere to stay when the pubs closed.
One night, I was chatting to just such a stranger, but he was stranger than most. With a shaved head save for a tiny pony-tail at the back and an voluminous, orange robe, he did not have to explain that he belonged to the then popular Hare Krishna cult of Indian 'mystics'.
He spent the night on my floor, got up early and left without a fuss - never once did he beat on a little drum or chant.
About a year later at about the same time of night, I took home another waif from the pub. The simple young man was from Grimsby, and was somewhat over-weight with a curly head of hair like Harpo Marx.
We were sitting around in the small room when there came a ring on the doorbell, so I went downstairs to see who was there.
A man with a shaven head and orange robe stood on the doorstep with an inane grin on his face, and close inspection told me that he was not the same Hare Krishna bloke as last year.
"I understand that you were recently kind enough to put up one of my brothers, and I was wondering if you could do the same for me tonight?"
These days, I would - of course - tell him to bugger-off, but I was a lot more tolerant then, so I wearily asked him to come in.
He briefly thanked me, then turned to a huge, white van that I had not associated with him up until that point, and waved his arm in a beckoning movement. About 15 men with shaved heads and orange robes poured out of it and began filing upstairs.
I decided to try and make the best of this completely bizarre and ludicrous situation, and we spent a good few hours sitting around and talking of all manner of things - well three of us did, anyway. The other fifteen just sat silently as we spoke, leaving any verbal reactions to the head honcho.
The only time the fifteen silent monks (well, temporarily silent, as you will hear) made a sound was when the Grimsby lad said - in a Grimsby accent - that he had heard that if you chanted, OM MANI PADMI HUM enough times and with enough conviction, your head exploded. The monks pissed themselves with involuntary laughter at this point.
At last, I said I was going to retire in the only bed in the crowded room, and the rest of them settled down like sardines on the floor. The head honcho told me that they always had a cold bath first thing in the morning, and asked if it would be alright for them to do that here, and I said, 'of course'.
I turned the light out, and the Grimsby lad immediately began to snore. The sixteen monks began whispering to each other in the darkness, and after a while I realised that - it being already about 3.00 am, they had to begin a rota-shift for what order they would have their cold baths, then begin bathing immediately.
So for the rest of the early, dark morning, the flat was filled with the sound of monks splashing vigorously around in the freezing bathroom and chanting 'Hare Krishna!' to themselves over and over again in the same that way we would scream if thrown into a icy lake.
At dawn, after a sleepless night, the head monk told me that they were holding a conference in Bath, and asked if they could stay for two more nights. Thankfully, I was visiting my parents that weekend, so I told them to make themselves at home and leave the key on the table when they let themselves out. I left with the Grimsby lad and drove the 100 miles to my parent's home.
When I returned on the Monday morning, I opened the door of my one-room little bedsit, and I was hit with the most glorious scent of hundreds of flowers - it was just like walking into a florist's shop.
I had a large refectory table in the not-so-large room, and it was completely covered with the fresh flowers with which they had filled the huge auditorium where they had held their conference. Because of the really delicious piles of vegetarian, Indian food they had also left for me, the flowers had spilt-over to cover most of the floor as well. I had to invite many friends around that night to help me eat it all. A little note was hidden amongst the blooms, and it said, 'Thanks for putting us up. Hare Krishna.'
About two days later, I was trooping up and downstairs with dozens of bin-liners full of dead flowers in time for the rubbish collection.