Monday, January 14, 2008

Hotels, sausages and funerals. (Yep, I know it's weird but I've never pretended to be normal.)

Well this year I've had two encounters with Hotels. One of them was in Weston Super Mare, an English coastal resort and the birth place of the comedian John Cleese of Monty Python fame and where this writer originates (which may explain my peculiar type of British madness.) It’s also the home of the infamous writer, ex politician and dubious businessman Jeffrey Archer (who with a cane I will ably whip for bringing the name of this once great Victorian seaside resort into disrepute with his lying and cheatin’ ways.) Fortuitously, I bear no resemblance to Lord Archer whatsoever. In fact the only cheating I've done was in a German test when I was 14. (I still got a crap result.) However, I've noted that odd people come from Weston… In fact I would go so far as to say\;

There’s something in the air
In Weston Super Mare
Who knows what it is
But it frequently smells of piss

And if you've ever been to Weston you’ll know exactly what I mean.

Anyway, I react badly to Hotels. Here’s why;

A. At least one of my children always gets the squits. (This means a series of explosions from the derriere jus in case you’re not familiar with this British expression.) It usually happens just as I am just pleasantly relaxed at a nearby restaurant and luxuriously perusing the chocolate desserts on the menu. But alas, the restaurant’s toilets are not suitable for major explosions so my children insist on me running at an increasing speed (thereby risking a possible tsunami on the Pacific Rim) to the nearby hotel. Where, despite my willing them with all my Jedi Super Powers not to do it in their pants, they still manage to soil them at the very last minute before letting rip over the entire bathroom…. evening ruined… I spend the rest of it clearing up….

Oh here’s a question… Why install those economy toilets in order to supposedly save water when you just have to flush them 20 times 'cos the loo paper won’t shift? If you know the answer please send it on a sheet of toilet tissue marked “Crappy Business.” Or alternatively just leave a comment.

B. I never get any sleep. (Unless I've been comatosed by a large quantity of alcohol and received a sharp bang to the head by Mr Turley who is sick of me moaning about the cheap, abrasive loo paper.) As I'm an insomniac at the best of times, it is almost inevitable that in a strange place with various degrees of creaking, moaning and flushing (and that just from the old geezer next door trying to get his leg over) any sleep at all is simply out of the question…but of course the worst thing to prevent sleep is…

C. A hard bed. I hate hard beds with a vengeance. Now I've discovered that ALL hotels have hard beds; there are just varying degrees of hardness. This means that inevitably I toss and turn all night long, have excruciating backache by the early hours and as the night passes small horns begin to sprout from my head; I become foul tempered, abusive and above all exhausted. By morning I am ready to kill; I'm polishing my Uzi, loading my bazooka and if the sausages at breakfast turn out to be cheap and nasty I become a fully fledged raging hormonal woman on the warpath. Which leads me to to note that;
D. Hotels serve sausages for breakfast. It’s a known fact. Now just in case you hadn’t noticed - sausages in hotels usually look the same. In fact they pretty much look the same everywhere - but if you’re a connoisseur of sausages, as I am, you can spot some major differences. So here’s my scale of hotel sausages rated from a top notch 5 to a lowly 1.

5.An excellent sausage. A good six inches long. Firm and meaty with lots of flavour. In fact if you suck it before you swallow you can really taste the meaty juices. It’s usually organic and if your lucky and it’s accompanied by black pudding you’re on to a real winner.

4. A pretty satisfying sausage. Approximately 5 inches long depending on the cooking technique. Best grilled as too much frying causes it to shrivel. About 70% meat content, so you don’t get too much gristle stuck in your throat.

3. A standard, mediocre 4 inch sausage. Only 50% meat and a supermarket special, although sometimes you can get 3 for the price of 2. Can leave you feeling a little dissatisfied so it’s best to cover it with lashings of a fruity sauce to help it go down smoothly.

2. The economy sausage; at 3 inches and with a high fat content it doesn’t have much rigidity. It’s flaccid, disappointing and can leave a bitter after taste.
1. The “not even worth bothering about” sausage. Although sometimes it can be five or 6 inches long it’s always thin and jelly like. Usually comes from a tin and is served with plum tomatoes. Cheap, nasty and salty. Push it to the side of the plate unless you haven’t had a sausage for a long, long time but even then you maybe disappointed at the lack of quality.

NB: The quality of the sausages may have something to do with whether or not your kids get the squits later that day; it could be bit of a sore point.

Now the second of my hotel visits this year was in Haworth in Yorkshire which, if you don’t know, was the home of the Bronte sisters and where Charlotte wrote the classic Jane Eyre and her sister Emily wrote the tortured Wuthering Heights. This part of Yorkshire is, at the same time, one of my favourite and yet least favourite places. Ironic, I know.

The moors in this area are wild and windy, still untouched by civilization. The buildings are dark, dull and dirty; the result of the grime bellowed in the air by the many mills that once flourished in this area. The cobbled streets are aged and worn. The whole atmosphere has an air of melancholy and depression that appeals to my less obvious reflective nature which people rarely see. Yet on a high summer’s day I see a strange beauty to behold in this sullen place which entrances me but... more often than not… it’s miserable, cold and usually it rains…. and rains…. and rains….

And so…

It’s 6am. The bed is a 6/10 which isn’t too bad. But it’s a four poster which some previous over enthusiastic couple have knackered; it has been poorly repaired and every time I turn over it squeaks like a rat. Not just a little rat but a James Herbert Lair rat. I haven't slept and I'm overwhelmingly tired as I also spent the evening wiping the kid’s backsides and even the free decanter of sherry on the sideboard couldn’t knock me out. Instead I’m lying motionless under the covers so as not to disturb hubby as he needs his sleep - today he will say Goodbye to his mother for the last time.

Frankly, it's a pain being an insomniac when you stay in a hotel; there’s nothing to do and other folks don't want to be disturbed by your midnight wanderings. All you can do is think and listen...

The rain is lashing against the window, the wind buffeting the Yorkshire stone. It’s going to be a bad day for a funeral. I like funerals to be on sunny days; it helps to remember the vitality, the legacy of the person who has died; it softens the blow. It reminds me that death maybe inevitable but life goes on, life can be truly beautiful….

It’s been a tricky few weeks. My husband and his siblings have not been prepared for their mother's death despite my attempts to prepare the way. I've had to bite my lip and keep a stiff upper lip for hubby's sake. But now on this dark and miserable morning I can think of nothing else. You see, Audrey and I had a lot in common; we didn't just share the same surname taken in wedlock. We also shared a love for her son; my husband. We were both mothers. We knew and understood what that meant. You see...a mother’s love can never be replaced….

A tear slides down my nose.

I hope the sausages are good at breakfast; otherwise they’ll be hell to pay.

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