Thursday 16 July 2009

What a splendid weekend, save for the beasts that gorged on my knees!

The plan was simple. We'd get a taxi from Leeds Station to the B & B, check in, drop off our bags and head off to the party. We were on a roll; didn't want to linger.
But plans are proof that god has a sense of humour.
I'd arrived in London on the Thursday, four days earlier, and had been building up a beery head of steam with an ever-growing assemblage of lifelong friends. Friday evening we sat outside a pub in Hammersmith by Old Father Thames, drinking copious pints and eating excellent fish and chips. On the Saturday 'twas Martin's 50th birthday party, and having drunk dry his monumental supplies of champagne, wine and anything else we could get our hands on, we grabbed a few hours dribbly kip, and regrouped at Kings Cross Station.
Somehow we were all still in great form, and aided by wizardly cooler bag technology, we drank our way to Yorkshire in a couple of hours, powered by laughter and building excitement. Tonight the Guru's sister was throwing a 50th birthday party for himself, and as long as we kept going, all would be good.
But there was nobody at the reception desk of the B & B. In fact, all we were greeted by was an overwhelming smell of dirty greasy fat. Finally a diminutive lass arrived, and we told her of our plan.
"Well, you'd be best to tell the taxi driver to go, because we're all going to go into the sitting room and have a wee chat."
We all wanted to say "A chat about what? Who are you? Our mother?"
But we didn't, and were then suitably patronised by somebody 25 years our junior. Finally, having parted with a substantial sum, I was given my key and told my room was down past reception on the left.
Off I went, down past reception, but the only thing on the left was a flight of stairs.
Room 231? Hmmm, surely that must be upstairs? So I climbed the creaky old stairs, walked along a corridor, through another door, down some steps, along another corridor and there it was.
Oh, it's a cupboard with a tiny single bed in it.
Ah well, never mind. It's not like I'll be in here long.
Outside we swapped similarly miserable tales of our rooms. This one had no towels. That one stank.
Oh look, here's our taxi, hurrah!
And off we went, to enjoy one of the finest parties I have ever been to. There was beer and food aplenty, as well as a film of the Guru's life, a firework display and later, the release of hot air lanterns into the night sky. Magic times spent with your bestest of friends: memories to keep forever.
Morning was dawning as I stumbled up the B & B stairs, along the corridor, through the other door, along the other corridor and down some steps into my cupboard, finally laying upon my tiny single bed, only to find that the old broken mattress immediately collapsed into a 'V' beneath me.
Did I care? I was, as they say, past caring.
Kicking off the ancient blanket I lay under a single sheet and woke, three hours later, as an airlock in the plumbing was shaking the entire building.
OW! Ow and bloody hell! What's that?
All over my legs were giant volcanic welling bites. I've done a fair bit of bumming around the world, and have been bitten by many mozzies. This was not the fault of a flying beast. These gigantic bites (7 on one leg and 4 on the other) were the work of something(s) that had crawled out of the decrepit mattress.
Stomach churning, I leaped in the shower to be instantly blinded by the water coming not from the holes in the shower head, but out of the sides. Swiftly exiting my hellhole of a room, I stumbled into the dining area, ready to be rescued by what the hotel's website described as a 'buffet breakfast'.
There was a 'Routiers' sign on the outside of the building. They must have nicked it and put it up themselves.
In a bowl were some tired stale slices of the cheapest white and brown bread. There was a toaster with a timer, and a note telling you how to use it. Over by the hot water urn was a small bowl with a small amount of coffee granules in it. Everything had obviously been out since the night before. The vile catering-pack coffee granules would have been merely undrinkable, were it not for the milk which turned into clotted lumps as soon as it hit the liquid in my cup.
A bloke came out of the kitchen and took my order for a cooked breakfast, apologising for the off-milk. Several minutes later UHT cartons appeared; not exactly what you want with your cereal.
They must have given themselves those 3***. Nobody else could have.
Unlike the previous morning, we were now all royally destroyed. Our party weekend was over and we had squeezed every last drop of pleasure from our days together.
Frantically scratching my bitten swollen boiling knees, I tried to eat the grease-sodden breakfast put in front of me.
1981. I suddenly realised that I used to stay in places like this when selling advertising for Pearl and Dean, back in 1981. Nowadays there are Travelodges and Holiday Inn Expresses: less expensive, spotless, slick and plastically fantastic compared to this dump. If this is the independent sector, bring on the boringly corporate chain, any day of the week.
Giving up on my squidgy sausage I stumbled past reception, and in my semiconscious stupor passed the stairs on the left, only to find my room, yes, room 231, right in front of me.
No! Please no! Don't tell me my flea-ridden Harry Potter cell from hell was on the ground floor, only a yard or two from reception!?!
When the day before she had said "Go past reception and it's on the left", she had meant "...the right", and had I realised her error, I could have saved myself miles of epic stair-climbing and wandering the stinky corridor circuits of the entire scummy B & B.
Why put room 231 on the ground floor?
How did that work?
Evidently, as well as everything else in the place.
Thankfully, nothing could spoil that weekend. Sublime. Spectacular. Thanks guys!


Miles O Tool said...

Try to post on to warn other innocent victims.

Charlie Adley said...

God thinking Miles - I did contact the hotel and threatened them with the health Inspector!