That stay at the posh Four Seasons hotel totally makes sense now. I had to be raised as high as I could go so I could fall as far as possible. The weekend after Doha I stayed in a flat in Newcastle and that wasn't great. I'm being incredibly kind when I say that only because I got to personally know the rats in the alley outside and don't want to hurt their feelings. But this weekend in Bristol I stayed in a proper, old-fashioned, British B&B.
It had everything that all good, mad B&B's should have. Acres and acres of dust, a billion cats and an embarrassing name. It's called Toad Lodge, it costs about £20 per night and it is worth every penny. Don't get me wrong, I've stayed in way worse places but this was definitely interesting. Flat screen TV's with lots of channels? Yes. Credit cards? No. Really modern, see-through, circular sinks? Yes. Hygiene? No. I'm not sure what my favourite thing about it was. The breakfast room was good. It had only one table but all the dirty cutlery and placemats you could dream of. Plus the table itself had a new kind of stickiness that I hadn't experienced before. Like week-old jam hiding under a thin sheet of microwaved semen. All this was more than made up for by the owner of the establishment. He was brilliant and I love him. The only way that I can possibly describe him is Britain's poshest tramp. He stood beside me while I ate my terrifying breakfast saying things like "Can I possibly interest you in another cup of tea, Sir? I notice your cup is running perilously dry. Or perhaps Sir would prefer to enjoy it in the garden?" while oozing sweat, wearing filth and smelling of something long dead. I really liked him. Genuinely. He was really nice.
But if I had to choose one thing to keep in my memory of this forgotten hostel it would be the very helpful stairlift. Yes, credit cards are something that just hasn't quite happened to Toad Lodge yet but they are modern enough to care for people who can't do stairs and have made sure they've provided the correct assistance. That is if you don't mind sitting in something that looks like it should be used to persuade heretics to confess their guilt. The dark brown, clunky, ancient, mechanical nightmare made it look like Tim Burton had given the stairs a huge, evil smile that would greet you any time you passed. The fact that the stairwell already had an audible hum (as well as an olfactory one) just made the stairs seem alive, yet dying.
In other words, it was creepy.
Still, at least I never had the troubles with the toilet at Toad Lodge that I had at the Four Seasons. Of course I didn't. It's a B&B. The toilet is miles away in a cupboard near the humming stair mouth. I'm not using that. Especially when that see-through sink looks so nice.
My bedsheets in Bristol.