COLUMN: March 28, 2013

I AM currently staying in a hotel because of work. I appreciate this makes me sound impossibly glamorous, like Sir David Frost or Rihanna, but I assure you that nothing could be further from the truth.

For example, although I have tea and coffee making facilities, I do not have any biscuits. I bet Sir David Frost doesn’t want for bourbon creams. I bet Rihanna can’t even remember the last time she had to ask for a garibaldi.

She probably has her own garibaldi wrangler in her vast entourage. I certainly would.

I don’t have a wardrobe, either. There’s a bar sticking out from the wall with coat hangers dangling from it, enabling the domestic staff to judge me on my clothing as well as the state in which I leave my room.

“I find it incredible to believe, Consuela,” one domestic would say to another, “that a man who stays in a hotel because of work would have underpants from Matalan.”

“He is clearly a fraud, Magda,” the other would reply. “When you replenish his tea and coffee-making facilities, do not give him any custard creams.”

Nor do I have a proper shower. Yes, I have the correct plumbing. What I do not have is a shower base. What I have is a “wet room” which is correctly named, as far as it goes, but would be more accurately named an “Oh, crumbs, it’s going everywhere, what if it goes under the door and out into the bedroom, you only need one little leak/great, my socks are now soaking as I brush my teeth because the floor is still damp room”.

I admit it would be difficult to market a product under that name, but it would serve to show the manufacturers that they have created one of the most stupid inventions since my alien abduction/doppleganger excuse for not doing my Greek homework. A wet room makes as much sense as a gravy table.

“We’re not bothering with plates any more, Ian.”

“But the red wine jus is dribbling onto my chinos.”

“I saw it on Grand Designs, so shut your face and build a mashed potato dam.”

But I am mostly carping. It is all worth it because I get a cooked breakfast every morning. I only ever have a cooked breakfast when I go to hotels, mostly because I don’t need one in everyday life.

I do not till fields or dig hunks of carbon out of rock tunnels. I just move a mouse around a bit and press keys. If I had a cooked breakfast every day I would need two seats on the bus by August, one for each buttock.

Nevertheless, because this is, as I think I have suggested, a budget hotel, my breakfast is not cooked to order. It is a breakfast buffet, which is basically a trough filled with scrambled eggs, beans, and sausages, among other things.

I am not delighted by this because I have to decide A) how much I want to eat; and B) how much I can get away with taking. And so my greed and guilt are set, as ever, in conflict.

On my first morning at the hotel I decided to put off that battle and get my tea and orange juice first. One of the hotel employees, resplendent in a waistcoat with an eye-wateringly bright purple rear lining, was busying himself just to the right of the hot water machine.

“Do I just press this?” I asked Waistcoat Man.

“Dunno,” he replied.

“Casual,” I thought, as I pressed the button and watched the hot water fill my cup.

I spied some fruit salad. “Why not?” I thought. “It will counteract the bacon.”

“Are there any bowls?” I asked Waistcoat Man.

“Dunno,” he replied, barely looking at me.

“Do you know where the spoons are?”

“No,” he said, impatiently. There was no way he was getting a tip. He’d actually got my dander up.

“How long have you actually worked here?” I asked, my tone shot through with sarcastic vitriol.

Waistcoat Man stared at me. “I don’t work here,” he said. Then he picked up his plate and went to his table.

I refuse to accept the blame. If anything, it was his fault for wearing a waistcoat in a hotel for no reason.

I bet this never happens to Rihanna.

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