Lisa Redpath doesn’t have a boyfriend. She doesn’t have time for one, she says, because for 21-year-old Lisa, her hobby is more important than trying to find Mr. Right. This is not unusual, of course. We all know people who devote evenings and weekends to their favourite pastime or sport, even if it means less time for relaxing with friends.
But I bet you don’t know anyone quite like Lisa, a hotel receptionist who spends all her time looking after Tim, Tom and Sam - three boa constrictor snakes, which live in her bedroom.
Most people who have snakes keep the creatures in a glass tank but Lisa prefers to let them move freely in her room: "I used to keep them in a tank" she says "but it seemed so unnatural, so I decided to turn my whole bedroom into a more natural habitat for them." It was around this time that Lisa’s last flatmate moved out. "I was quite glad when she left. She was a bit strange" said Lisa, "and it meant I had more time to concentrate on my snakes."
"But what is it that takes up so much time?" I asked. "Surely snakes just look after themselves."
"They need a lot of talking to and affection" she replied. "It keeps them calm, otherwise they get agitated. They also need a regular supply of mice, otherwise they get hungry and very moody. I’m often down at the pet shop for mice or rats." She sat there looking at me as if she had said something perfectly normal, while I tried not to be sick.
"No boyfriend at the moment?" I asked, changing the subject. Lisa continued stroking Sam while she thought about the question. "Not really. I just haven’t got the time," she sighs. "Anyway, they don’t hang around long once they meet my three boys here. Love me, love my snakes... that’s what I say."
I left Lisa to give Tim, Tom and Sam their dinner, closing the door very firmly behind me.