Longing for some of it I thought a night in a ‘spa hotel’ might be the answer. I rang to enquire how quiet the hotel was and was told ‘Oh yes, very – no functions this weekend’. Right, I thought, some rest at last: A break from the falsetto and his pianist flatmate upstairs, the night shift worker next door and a frenetic recent spell on the hamster wheel.
I arrived and the receptionist gave me my room key. I told her how excited I was about the spa and asked her once more if my room would be quiet. ‘Oh yes’ she said, smiling. ‘Absolutely’.
I spent some time in the pool and tried out the Jacuzzis and steam room. A massage helped me wind down then a lovely bath, followed by dinner. Jolly groups of women on a spa/shopping break surrounded me along with families out for a special occasion. Everyone was dressed up and enjoying their treat.
I crashed out onto my lovely comfy bed. There was no phone reception and I was relieved.
At 11pm I woke to the sound of banging music. Thump thump thump it went. I waited for a while to see if I could sleep through it. I rang reception. ‘You can move to another room in the hotel if you want – it’s quieter at the other side’. I asked for the manager. ‘The music finishes at 1am’. ‘Why did no one tell me?!’ I exclaimed. ‘I can’t understand that, Madam’, came the reply, ‘We’ve known about this dinner dance for months’.
Three hours later I had heard the full gamut of the party – the DJ calling Time, people throwing up in the room next to me and drunken singers passing my door. I lay there and thought how extraordinarily hard it is to get good thoughtful service and wondered where on earth it exists and how much you have to pay for it in these stricken economic times. More poignantly, I wondered what my lesson was here.
Breakfast was cheery next morning; it was sunny and I enjoyed a gorgeous bowl of fresh melon. A coffee at the bar with the paper felt almost normal. The girl stacking the coffee cups turned to her colleague: ‘What’s the matter with you today? You’re in such a bad mood’. ‘Oh, no need to reply’ I interjected, ‘he obviously slept here last night’.
Later, as I watched my brother give the performance of a lifetime in ‘A View from the Bridge’ with my Mother, Aunt and Uncle, I started to feel relaxed. I thought about sods law, how throwing money at things to make them happen rarely works and about practising what I preach. I felt the wrench I always do when I leave my family, and headed back to London to launch myself into the fray again.