Across Continents

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Paper plane or crumpled ball

August 4th, 2012

Paper plane or crumpled ball. I just couldn’t quite decide which would best propel the replies I’d received towards the waste bin. Both from the grandly titled Chief Executive Office of the well known chain that’d run the down-trodden motel I recently stopped in. One would have sufficed. Indeed, in what I’d thought was a rather witty note to the Chief Executive Officer inviting him to spend a night in the establishment, I’d suggested a postcard would have been quite acceptable. Adding I was simply looking forward to hearing all about his experience, a chance to compare notes.

I’d painted what I thought had been a fair picture – tired interior; ample scuffed paintwork, and an ambience somewhere between a student hall of residence and a bail hostel. Adding that he might find the TV a little perturbing, but not to worry, that’d be interference, not double vision. Assuming, of course, he’d first mustered sufficient coinage to feed the parking meter. Before you think me a little harsh, I’d mentioned the one – the only – redeeming feature; the staff, friendly and helpful, their staying power quite remarkable given frequent criticism from disgruntled customers.

Final glance over the letters I’d received. One with a signature resembling a slinky spring, the other a pentagram. Otherwise, little else of merit, meaningless platitudes written in haste by a minion. Apologetic they weren’t; if I had ever been inclined to give them a second chance, not any more. Ball it is.

[Ken now makes use of the Premier Inn chain – much nicer, and about the same cost]

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Panel beating

July 8th, 2012

The room had all the aesthetic appeal of a crime scene. It might even have been one. Functional. Clean. Rarely endearing adjectives when scribbled in my note book. Soft focus channel on TV; an episode of The Hotel Inspector, but shades of Carry On. Don’t think they missed a single double entrendre or carefully positioned pot plant, but if you must visit a naturist spa. In Birmingham. I thought the presenter brave and the owner genuine, quiet admiration for his naked conviction.

A train trundled past, just a couple of coaches but, obliged by the discomforting humidity to keep the windows open as far as I could prise them, easily mistaken for an express plunging south. Rummaging around had turned up a toothpick, but it seemed the Gideon Society had cast this place to lost causes. I’d have taking comfort in the room being cheap, but it wasn’t. Small matter of the parking surcharge. At a motel. I’d already begun to sketch out the short note to the MD of the well known chain.

There’d been a modicum of redemption. The staff, remarkable as much for their staying power as their helpfulness, the only redeeming feature of the establishment. I’d mention this in my letter. There might have to be a little humour, something to spark it actually getting past the minions. Feint praise usually does the trick.

I’d abandoned the remote control for the buttons on the TV, frustrated by the worn keys, their symbols long perished. Shuffling between Mock the Week and Question Time. One a satirical look back at events of the last seven days, the other casting scorn on topical issues. There did seem to be a bit of a mix-up with the bookings. But, like my room, all a bit disappointing. Might open my letter with that. Disappointing.

Lost potential amongst the panellists. Take the miscreants in the latest financial scandal, their conduct described as misbehaviour. Small children misbehave, perhaps a stint on the naughty step. But fines in the hundreds of millions; that’s a lot of pocket money, even for bankers. Then there’s been confirmation of the Higgs Bosun. Wouldn’t know one if I saw one, but it somehow sounds worthy of applause, possibly something you might serve with the cucumber sandwiches, and only slightly less abstract than Libor. Political party in the Midlands I think. And no mention of Staffordshire Police’s Quit Smoking helpline… such a shame.


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