Sunday, 25 April 2010

adventures in the big smoke, part one

I was in London on Thursday night for the 115th anniversary of Oscar Wilde's trials/arrest. As an author of a book on Wilde, I had been invited to speak at the event, hosted by The Cadogan Hotel, scene of my horse-and-carriage-arrival book launch.

Getting there was interesting, however. I had a close encounter with the barrier at St.Pancreas station, which decided it didn't like me and was going to let everyone through except me - not that I have a persecution complex or anything...

After several attempts to put my ticket through whilst holding up a long queue of people I decided to try and dive through after the person in front of me, but it slammed back, nearly knocking me off my feet. I promptly burst out laughing hysterically and the crowds, by now, were all staring at me as if I had clearly gone mad.

At this point an official approached me and explained that I was using the wrong ticket, my reservation ticket instead of my actual ticket. If there is anyone I would like to put a curse on it is people who decide these things:

As in, 'I know, let's create a system where you have two tickets that look identical just to confuse you, and to give the innocent bystander some entertainment when you spend twenty minutes trying to work this out and get yourself smacked in the duodenum by an agitated barrier.' (perhaps that should be pancreas...)

Whoever you are, may you simply stop breathing. Inexplicably.

When I arrived at the hotel I decided to have a bath, so I put the plug in. It was one of those high tech bathrooms where there are lots of knobs everywhere and no instructions (a bit like St Pancreas really...) Thus,I spent fifteen minutes trying to work out how to turn the tap on. What is it they say in the film 'Titanic' - 'women and machinery do not mix?'

After I had finished running my bath I realised I couldn't remember how to turn the tap off, or take the plug out (it wasn't a manual one). The water level was getting higher and every time I turned the tap function off the shower function came on, and vice versa.

I had visions of drowning in my hotel room, in a Biblical style tragedy. I thought of calling the maintenance man but I was only wearing a towel and wouldn't have time to dress...The Cadogan is a five-star hotel, so service is fast.

Still, it wouldn't have been the first time I gave the maintenance man an eyeful. I once answered the door in my room at The Grand in Brighton having forgotten to put my top on, (the room was very warm). Let's just say I have never seen a man turn so red or run so fast...I thought it was hilarious.

And all this was before the evening had even begun. To be continued in Part 2...

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