NWM(hm)* encompasses that every increasing slice of life’s pie chart entitled “what the fuck?“. This vast swathe of nonsense starts at politicians, ends at people who confuse wealth with entitlement and pinpoints swaggery, arrogance, stupidity and downright lunacy at all points in between.
It’s quite a big slice. Give us representative examples I hear you ask. How long have you got I would reply except I have a real corker burning hot right here, right now. I’ve been extremely fortunate this year spending only a few days away from home thereby avoiding the cockmunchery of business class, business dinners and business hotels all wrapped in self importance and toe curling obsequiousness.
Last week that my world stopped while this started. One night in our dirty Capital starting out well with too many beers with too few old friends**, and ended meandering in a slightly inebriated peramble back to a new hotel shadowed by the magnificence of St. Pauls.
A nice man with a top hat and eastern European accent clearly felt I was in not state to operate a door and wafted me into reception. Where three more of a similar geographic landscape fell upon me and my luggage offering all sorts of services and smiles, somewhere in the middle of which might have been a room for the night.
Dignity is something I’ve long been separated from. And I have some history here both in a deficient self control gland and a hatred for contemporary hotels. But even with all that and headful of rubbish beer, I still delivered sufficient upright bearing to refuse assistance in carrying a very small bag and a very tired body up a single flight of stairs.
Nodding vigorously at the retention of my working class credentials, I dodged two more hotel-borg on the extended stroll to my room – the hotel being quite large and me failing to decipher the oh-so-arty hieroglyphics masquerading as room numbers. A lucky break and a repeated key stabbing action gained me access to a space both clearly brand new and evidently decorated by a man who was so NWM he probably arrived in a designer spaceship.
Of the many terrors this “hybrid third place delivering joy on many different soul levels” holds for the common man, the second most scary was represented by the bed. Or more precisely what was on the bed – to whit 12 cushions. And there were two beds . TWENTY-FUCKING-FOUR cushions? What is going on here? Clearly some kind of haberdashery arms race between competing hotels “Yes Gervase, they may have tassles spun from the testicle fur of a Arabian camel ,but who has covered the entire room with 70s wallpaper stuffed with foam? Hmm Hmm?”
Unless you are a giraffe such plump accouterments are nothing more than pointless garnish, which may go some way to explaining how only 11 pence remained for the lighting system. Some not very bright spark configured the many and varied side lights, over hanging bulbs, desk illuminations and searing mirror lights in such a way they could only be extinguished by a master switch by the door.
I’ll let you think about that while I stumble about in a doomed navigational voyage to the bed. I successfully avoided various modern edgy edges before being felled by one of the very cushions I’d tossed to the floor some minutes earlier. Only mildly winded and lightly bruised, I climbed into bed where it became apparent no expense had been spared on the heating system either.
No because they’d captured a small sun and installed it directly under my room. Three more fraught journeys to the air conditioning panel*** made little difference other than adding to the all body bruising. Eventually I gave up, adding a duvet sail to the sea of pointless cushions and spent the next six hours not sleeping much.
The alarm call had all the charm that an electronic beep can offer before being followed up by one of the reception zombies enquiring if I required anything else? A proper night’s sleep? A room that’s not heated by the earth’s core? A lighting system not designed by the bloke from the Crystal Maze? “I’ll send up a suggestion card shall I sir?”
So hungover, tired and hungry I felt my day could only improve by a nice relaxing shower. Obviously, being me, I could never get that fucking lucky. The whole bathroom was a riot of light, mirrors, angles and everything carefully designed to make a fragile head feel slightly worse. But this merely was a curtain raiser for the shower; what a statement this was – huge tiled area, multiple outlets, mirrored casings and three shiny, chromed knobs with absolutely no notation on them whatsoever.
Being a proper engineer, I twiddled with the knobs**** for a while before an ill advised full bore rotation of a random knob fired out water at a pressure speaking directly of a conduit mined to the Mariana trench. Cold water at that, although cold isn’t really a good describing word as my kids would say. They probably wouldn’t say “FUUUUUCKKKK SHIIIIT WHAT THE TWATING HELL IS GOING ON HERE?” because they’d have been too busy drowning.
The sheer volume of icy liquid left me with no option but to salmon swim back up the cubicle in order to beat the stupid controls with a bloody fist. Finally I achieved some kind of water karma, but frankly I’d rather have fallen into the Thames than spend one bloody minute in that hotel. On checking out, many shiny teeth asked me if I’d enjoyed my brief stay.
And because I’m English I said “Yes, it was lovely” and “Do you have a doctor on site because I think I may have broken your shower with my testicles. Terribly sorry“.
And yet, and yet London is a hard place to hate on an autumnal morning draped in blue sky under a warming yellow sun. I popped into St. Pauls and wished the hotel designers had spent one minute in here because – even to a dedicated atheist such as me – it has an undoubted presence and almost endless beauty. And on my short walk to the office, I ducked off the main drag and wandered happily through narrow streets peopled with every size, shape and colour you could every want to meet.
I like that. And I liked the boggling choice of places for a NWM man to get a breakfast that doesn’t cost twenty five quid and come with worryingly attentive waiters. I chose one at random, ordered up pig inna bun accompanied by a vat of tea and all was well with the world.
Until the bill came and with it a demand for the best part of ten pounds.
Not My World. Not even close.
* Hedgehog Mark. Like a trademark only spikier.
** Up to the point when I – un-Yorkshirelike – I got a round in. How much for a beer? At least serve it bloody warm.
*** I considered ringing reception for some string but could not face the bright smiles of 300 or so employees turning up at my door.
**** Which kept me entertained for a while but realistically wasn’t going to get me clean and corporate.