Hotels are dark and mysterious places, with their own special powers. The mirrors in hotel bathrooms for example have a terrible effect on PP, who occasionally phones me in stroppy hysterics, demanding to know if he 'really looks that fat'. I tell him no, it's just the effect of the harsh lighting and the tile angles, but we both that the hotel bathroom mirror is a terrible thing, able to offer up your darkest fears and show you a ghastly sagging version of your future self. For the record, PP is merely 'well-built', and were he an American, he could be described as 'husky'. I'm staying at his big gay bachelor pad in Canterbury this weekend, so I have to be nice about him. The big gayer.
The hotel bedroom is the particular dark zone for me (relax, no tales of sexing-up are about to transpire). I just get guilt, at four in the morning. Not even proper guilt, but a sort of low-level fretting* about things that I really can't do anything about, like when I killed a shrew with a coal scuttle in 1998.
I was living at home, and there was a strange sqeaking noise from the patio. Opening the door I found my cat Tabs (who I'd christened Moglet, but nothing had come of it, which was probably best) looking at me with a terrified shrew in her mouth. So I shouted at her, and she dropped the tiny creature and went off to commit random violence on more British wildlife.
The shrew just rolled around on the crazy paving, squeaking, and judging that it was in terrible pain, I went in to get the coal scuttle. One mighty blow later, it was still squeaking, and it took about four goes to properly dispatch it. But yes, finally, it had moved on, and I was able to tenderly scoop up its battered remains and fling them into the rockery. At which point my mum came out.
'What's all the noise about?' she asked, which wasn't an unreasonable request, as it was late at night, a time you don't usually expect to hear squeaking and clanging unless you live above an brothel catering for Arthurian-style knights who like other Arthurian-style knights, and they do it in full armour, in which case more fool you.
'I had to kill a shrew,' I said. 'The cat had it in her mouth, and it was squeaking, so I was putting it out of its misery.'**
'It was probably perfectly fine,' said my mum. 'They're very noisy, shrews.'
She went back inside, and turned off the kitchen light leaving me standing in the patio clutching a blood-stained coal scuttle, staring up at the night sky. It was a particularly clear night, and for a moment I thought I saw a new star wink into existence above me, a tiny trembling beacon of hope, and life beyond all that we think we know. But then it winked off, and then on again, and I realized it was just like, I dunno, a satellite or something. Which was a shame.
I slept fine last night though, on PP's sofa. But then I had been drinking, which always helps.
* I often check under the bed, in case the last guest left behind their 'Low-Level Fretting Device'. 'Aha!' I would say as I carried it down the reception, holding it gingerly by the electric cord. 'I rather thing I've found the source of the problem.'
**I may also have added 'You know, like we did with Aunty Nora.' I can't remember.