So I tried to get some laundry done at my hotel (more hotel stuff I'm afraid, you're just lucky I'm not in parts foreign or you'd get stuff about check-in desks and airport security), which rather brought out the way most British people try and deal with, basically, 'the staff', which tends to be either:
A) Behave churlishly and rudely, treating everyone you encounter like some kind of moron and generally laying about you with a riding crop.
B) Cringe apologetically and adopt a faux-Bertie Woosterish tone, attempting to manoevre said staff into treating you with a sort of affectionate contempt and therefore giving you at least some sort of service even if only out of pity.
Tragically A is much more effective, although it does reveal you to possess the soul of a wasp*. Also people will secretly spit in your soup, or if you ever behaved like this in Waterstone's Canterbury, poo in your book.
Anyway, I may have developed a Blair-style third way: Sidetracking Into Philisophical Debate. Thus:
ME: Hello, gosh, sorry and so forth, but I need some laundry done, and I was told there was a laundry bag in my room, but I couldn't find one.
RECEPTIONIST MAN (who I will henceforth refer to as 'Yuri', because he looked like one): Well there should be.
ME: Ahahaha! I am a fool. I shall of course look again.
I RUN UPSTAIRS. I RUN DOWNSTAIRS
ME: Definitely no bag.
YURI: Well there should be one.
ME: Well I very much regret to inform you, once again 'gosh', that no there isn't.
YURI: There should be one.
ME: But there isn't.
YURI: But there-
ME: Much as I love your summoning-up of this image of a Platonic Ideal of a hotel, it leaves me curiously unmollified.
YURI: That would be marvellous though, wouldn't it? It would have lovely chairs.
ME: Are we going to a stand-up bit now? Because I just want some laundry done.
YURI: And the breakfast would be-
ME: Seriously, stop it.
YURI: We can make the dream come true.
ME: Yuri, what are you saying?
YURI: I am talking about a revolution, my brother. Together we can make a better pursue our twin ideal of the Platonic Ideal Hotel (3-star). But there must be sacrifices. We must cull anyone who does that weird gangsta limping-walk, like they've got a gun in their waistband, for a start.
ME: But Yuri, must we not also make sacrifices?
YURI: I like what you did there.
ME: Look, can I just have a laundry bag?
YURI: Oh go on then.
YURI HANDS ME A LAUNDRY BAG AND A FORM TO FILL IN. I RUN BACK UPSTAIRS. FINALLY-
ME (O/S**, from my room) Jesus! HOW much?
Anyway, turns out there's a washer/dryer in the basement at Talkback. So it all worked out OK.
* Possibly TM Richard Preddy from GW - can't remember.
** 'Off Screen'