Friday, 20 August 2010

Hoteliers of Ireland - remove your plastic sheets!

After a few minutes lying on my hotel bed in Clifden, I started pouring sweat from all over my body. 

Ooerr. Not nice.
Maybe I’d overdone the delivery of toxins into my body. 
Maybe I’d drunk too much alcohol too quickly in too short a space of time. 
Maybe I’d failed yet again to escape from the craic that is Race Week.

Each year I decide whether I’m going to embrace the 7 crazy days Galway plays host to the entire nation. Where the Galway Races are concerned, you have to be either immersed in it or run away from it. There is no happy medium.

This year I fled, heading off across the sea to inis Mor, to spend some time with Soldier Boy. The last time I went to visit him I brought with me Grumpy Chef and another friend who had recently been through a major trauma. 

Reliable as ever, Soldier Boy delivered a splendidly mad time for all of us, cramming as many macabre and bizarre experiences into our first 40 minutes on the island as the Universe might provide, should it conspire to do its deadly best.

I’ll spare you the details of that true yet highly unbelievable story and instead just share the ingredients: a very hungover ex-soldier covered from head to foot in freshly-ripped flesh wounds; a mobile phone that barked like a dog; a savoy cabbage; several bottles of wine, some bacon and a steep corner on a bohreen by a stone wall, eight foot above a hundred yards of tightly-packed bramble bushes.

As the Americans so quaintly put it: ‘Go figure.’

This time it was going to be different, calm, quiet, just me and my mate sitting outside his gaff for hours under cloudy skies, looking down on the small harbour town of Kilronan.

Off the boat, it felt natural to fall into and out of a few pubs, and then polish off a few tinnies outside his home. Then we strolled back into town in the evening for few more and then a couple or three by the side of his fire pit, under the stars in the evening, talking gentle bollocks into the early hours.

It was one of those days when you hardly noticed how much ye’d been imbibing, but a flow of beer as steady as the rain that falls on da Wesht was delivered into my bloodstream, so it was only when I stood up that I realised I was exceedingly drunk. 

Mind you, sitting down had not been easy either. As soon as I lowered my substantial frame into one of Soldier Boy’s Director-style chairs on his deck, it slowly and wholly disintegrated, sinking beneath me like a lift in an elevator shaft towards the ground, very much as an ex-chair might. Sorry about that, mate!

Next morning we both awoke with sunburned faces, rigid and peeling. Despite the fact that we looked like a pair of grated beetroots, nobody seemed too troubled. In fact, everywhere we went to eat and drink the service was great and delivered with a smile. But sadly the recession was hitting hard, and at 8:30 on a July evening, when the pubs in Kilronan should have been kickin’ major tourist butt, there was myself and himself in Joe Macs, a table of Yanks visiting their family and a few locals at the bar. The place was deader than dead, and if it was like that in high season, gord help the people of the Arann islands.

Mind you they’ve seen worse times, and doubtless will yet again. 

The next day it felt great to turn Shaaanny car left at the crossroads after Rossaveal, heading west for Clifden. I’d forgotten just how mouth-wateringly beautiful is the road that cuts through Roundstone bog. Stopping the car, I stepped out into the sounds of the silence of a Connemara day. 

The wisssshh and shusshhh of the breeze; the gurgle of the streams running off the bog; the fwwwummm fwwwummmm sound of a ...  oh thank you thank you Universe ... a single black swan in flight, cutting low and magnificent across the face of the distant hills.

My hills - the Twelve Pins, God’s own fruit bowl, sensual peaks and swirly valleys smoothed by glaciers, looking perfectly majestic and commanding in a comfortably moderate Irish way. 

My good friend The Goat had been called off to play in Tully Cross, so upon arriving in Clifden I checked into the Alcock and Brown Hotel, where new owner Mike was just the right side of incredibly enthusiastic, managing to resist the temptation to ask me if I’d recently walked through a forest fire, or did my scarlet scabby face always look like that?

I headed straight to the bar in Terry’s, for a pint of Guinness and some excellent fish and chips, but despite the time of year and the exceptionally friendly and efficient staff, the place was empty. I’d expected the posher places to be suffering, but thought that the capital of Connemara’s pub grub would be hitting the high season tourists’ bellies aplenty, but no. All the crowds I’d seen that afternoon had been day trippers, now disappeared, leaving four French tourists to wander disconsolate, looking bored and hard-done by as only the French can.

D’Arcy’s was closed and Malarkey’s was empty. It was just too early for the locals to be out in Clifden, so I took my sandpapered face off on a Stations of the Triangle Tour. Into Griffins to watch some sport, then to Vaughans to sup a few whiskies, then into Lowry’s to talk to a fisherman or two and drink some more black, and back to Terry’s for a couple more, followed by another excursion to Malarkey’s.

By the time dusk had fallen, I was quietly and privately bombed, so tired and weary I fell upon the bed in my hotel room, to read my book and grab an early night.

All was fine.

Well, no, all was not  fine. I felt sweaty. All of a sudden I felt yuckysweatyhorrible and pooper, please tell me I’m not coming down with something!

No. I wasn’t ill, I was just lying on a plastic bottom sheet. What a vile and patronising practice that is. Hotel rooms are not cheap, and if you’re a hotelier you simply have to treat your guests with respect. We’re paying handsomely precisely for a good night’s sleep in a bed we don’t have to make ourselves, and yet, there I was, having to strip the bed entirely, remove the wretched sweat-inducing placcy precautionary device and remake the bed from top to bottom. 

Instead of feeling all special and mollycoddled, I now resented having to pay to sleep in that bed. It was no longer an object of comfort and luxury. 

Hoteliers of Ireland, stop treating your punters like 6 year-old bed-wetters. Take off your plastic sheets and help the tourists feel at least as comfy as they do in their own beds. Otherwise they will day trip and go home.

Next year I think my liver and I will stay home for Race Week. I’ll just give in, let it eat me up and burp me out.


Paz said...

Agree with you, nothing worse, though a guesthouse owner once said that it was surprising the amount of guys that soil themselves, especially golfers

Charlie Adley said...

Yuck! That has to be down to drinking too much and not being able to handle it, no? So golfers are tight of grip but loose of sphincter.

I sat here and tried to come up with bad puns about wedge shots in the rough and balls lying in muddy bunkers but nothing sprang to mind!

Paz said...

tiptuor when a surface becomes unplayable due to casual water and loose impediments.
So beware of guesthouses and hotels near Golf courses! Though the guesthouse in question has seperate rooms for the golfers and normal people ;)

Paz said...

the first word of the last comment was the word verification oops

Charlie Adley said...

Love it! Although I'm not sure I'd qualify for a 'Normal Person' room though!

Paz said...

i don't either, but they took pity on me and I still got a plastic sheet free bed

Ian said...

And I thought golf sucked. Looks like it blows, too.
I once stayed with a mate in a self-catering place in the Yorkshire Dales that had plastic sheets on the beds. Naturally, we removed them with self-righteous indignation. Over a period of four days, my mate was sick in his bed - nowt to do wi't booze, mind - and I tipped a full mug of Bovril into mine.
The (blue!) plastic sheets did come in handy though, as they completely covered up the stains on the mattresses...

Charlie Adley said...

ahhhh Bovril, that essence of boiled-down cow juice...nowt to do with the booze, of course!