I reverse my car into the parking space and step out into the chill morning air. It’s still dark and I’m pleased. It’s 4:30 and it’s the earliest we’ve finished on this, the last night of two weeks of night work.
I walk quietly into the hotel, tip-toeing past the night porter who has nodded off in his chair. He’s stretched curiously across the counter, his hand clutching a biro, which is resting just an inch above the pages of an open red folder, and has obviously dozed off whilst doing some mundane paperwork. I’m pleased that he’s asleep. A nice enough chap but he’s old and likes to talk and I can barely understand his strong East European accent.
And I just want to go to bed.
The corridor is soundless as I walk down it, with just some soft snoring emanating from behind the occasional bedroom door. The fire doors close silently behind me, but I know the final one has a bit of a clunk when it shuts, it’s automatic closer having grown weak with age. I close it carefully behind me, so as not to make any noise and I stealthily tread the final steps to my room.
The key clicks noisily in the quiet of the corridor, as I slide it in to the lock, and I do so as slowly and as quietly as I can. Again, I shut the door carefully behind me as it has a tendency to slam, but before I do, I hang the purple and white card on my door handle. “Shhh”, it says. “Shhh. I’ve been working all bloody night and need some kip, so keep the damn noise down”.
Or words to that effect.
The room is stuffy and I open the window wide to let some air in before sliding under the duvet. I read my book for twenty minutes until my eyes feel sufficiently tired that I might fall straight to sleep.
But I don’t. The bed is too warm. I try to stick my feet out of the bottom, but the maid has nailed the end of the duvet to the mattress and I have to kick furiously to get it free.
Then I realise that I haven’t cleaned my teeth. Pah! It doesn’t matter, go to sleep. But I run my tongue across my yellowing tombstones and they feel yuck: a consequence of eating chocolate biscuits and malt loaf all night.
So, I get up and go to the bathroom. All too late, I realise I’ve made the mistake of turning on the bathroom light. This automatically starts up the extractor fan set into the ceiling. The extractor fan that I’m sure is made by Pratt & Whitney. I sigh inwardly as I recognise the consequence of my mistake. Five seconds later, the jet engine bursts into life and will continue it’s deafening roar until it automatically shuts down fifteen minutes later.
I lay in bed listening to the muted rumble of the fan behind the now closed bathroom door. The noise it makes belies it’s punitive power, as it seems to do bugger all. Placing my hand in front of it, I can feel absolutely nothing. Eventually, it stops.
I look at my watch and it’s now 5:15 Thankfully, I fall straight to sleep.
I awake with a start at the unmistakeable sound of a door slamming. I look at my watch: it’s only seven o’clock. But I quickly fall back to sleep.
There goes another one. And someone whistling as they walk down the corridor. Bastard!
BANG! Thud. Shuffle. Chatter. Squeak.
The two old people in the room next to me, talk noisily as they teeter along the corridor, dragging their suitcase with the squeaky wheel and bashing it on the fire doors. It’s just past 7:30
What’s wrong with these people? Can they not see the card on the door?
READ. THE. FUCKING. CARD!
Back to sleep.
Vroooooo, vrooooo, vroooo
What the…? It’s the maid, hoovering the room above me.
I give up. That’s as much sleep as I’m going to get. I may as well get up and go to breakfast. I look at my watch through bleary eyes. It’s 9:30 Shit! Missed breakfast. Oh well, it’ll have to be tea and biscuits. Again.
I’m now feeling quite miserable.
I put the kettle on. The room is cold and I put the heating on and close the window before climbing back into bed, whilst the kettle takes it’s customary twenty minutes to boil.
I pick my phone up from the bedside table and take it off of silent.
There are two texts, both from home.
“Happy Birthday Darling. xxx”, says the first.
“Happy Birthday Daddy xx”, says the second.
I smile: I’d forgotten all about that.