Thursday, May 19, 2005


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.
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.
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'


Sparkling said...

So you found the reason there was no laundy bag in your room :)

Anonymous said...

There is a third (or possibly fourth) way - pretend to be my mother (no cross-dressing or comedy voices required). This involves being awfully polite but quite firm, so as to brook no argument. Works a charm, but does require practice.

James Henry said...

Hey, pash - this is the book I was telling you about: 'French Revolutions' by Tim Moore

One of the few writers who makes me laugh out loud.

Sparkling, I am confused - please ellucidate....

cello said...

Sparkling, are you implying that Yuri had used the laundry bag to secrete the delicious breakfasts, or lovely chairs, to take home to his deprived and deserving family?

You very nearly had me offering to take your laundry home James and return it, ironed and aired, to Talkback the next morning. But I don't even do my own ironing. And having a mother fixation on a guy in his thirties is sick and sad.

Anonymous said...

Excellent, that's coming on holiday with me then. Oh and he's the guy who wrote "Do Not Pass Go", I've been meaning to read that as well. Sterling stuff, thanks for the tip.

James Henry said...

Being sick and sad is vastly underrated, I find. But thanks for the thought (and Talkback turns out to have all sorts of mod cons I never knew existed).

Abaculus said...

What other mod cons? Working, as I do, in an office where one gets excited about the arrival of a box of DL window envelopes, I want to know how the other half work...

Sparkling said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Sparkling said...

As most hoteliers, they realised their laundry service was to expensive for anyone sane to be bothered with, so no need to even leave the laundry bag.
For American guests you just leave the bag with no price slip... they usually don't have a clue about the exchange rate anyway.

James Henry said...

Well legend has it there's a shower, which I find terribly exciting. Haven't seen it yet though.

We did have a load of runners (i.e. young thrusting types who want to get into telly so are prepared to work for money that's only three times what I earned working in an electronics factory), who make coffee and satisfy sordid whims, but they're all helping with filming now, so I have to make my own toast. Probably best anyway, because if we work them too hard, the Guardian shouts at us.

Also they're mostly the offspring of various media dynasties anyway, so we need to be nice to them as they'll be employing us in about three years time.

James Henry said...

Sparkling - I'm with you now*, and I think you may be entirely correct.

*Not literally, that would be weird.

Anonymous said...

You've been reading Samuel Beckett again, haven't you?

James Henry said...

Never read him. Haven't got time now I've got those Fretting sites to look at.

It's a worry.

Abaculus said...

For a fortnight not too long ago I was a runner at a well-known (but undisclosed here) UK film production company. Luxurious duties included cutting the chief casting exec's burger into square shapes.

Sparkling said...

but burgers are round!?

Abaculus said...

Such is the kind of Sysiphean task to which runners are habitually put.

Anonymous said...

You should, you know. He writes a lot of dialogue like the above exchange. It reminded me of "Waiting for Godot".

He's another absurdist. James Joyce's daughter had the hots for him, you know.

Paul Pennyfeather said...

Since I did your washing at the weekend does that mean I'm your runner?

NB- Tim Moore- Friend of Sophie's friend Kola so that's 2 degree's of separation.

belladona said...

Ha, you can't fool us. We know that the rooms of talkback are in fact carpeted in cloth of gold, with medieval tapestries lining the walls and live (as opposed to stuffed) cherubs casting maltesers over all and sundry.

James Henry said...

Actually that's an astonishingly accurate description of Pennyfeather Towers. Have you been there?