I spent the Bank holiday weekend at Reading Festival. Being well past the age when camping in overcrowded conditions with thousands of insomniac teenagers stopped being fun I now temper my festival experience by staying in a local hotel. Being a true Yorkshireman and appreciating the value of money (or being mean if you want to apply that reframe) I stayed in a basic bed and breakfast with my brother in law. He had booked it about 9 months in advance and called them to confirm all was well and there was on site parking. His text to me was typically cryptic.
Hi just checked B&B all booked in, check in from 1400.
No having fun
But it did set the scene for my first meeting with our hostess.
On the Thursday my daughter was keen to get going to secure a reasonable place to camp and after grinding through the traffic I arrived at the B&B at 13.30. I parked and leaving my bag in the car, in case , went into the B&B to see if I could check in or at least leave my car in the car park while I went for a stroll to the pub. The Landlady greeted me with a gruff:
it’s 1.30. Another one who can’t tell the time.
I said I knew I was early and if the room was not ready I was happy to come back in an hour or so. The landlady said that the room was ready and I was welcome to come in.
I’ve had them here at 9.30. It clearly says 2pm. And checking out, asking if they can check out later. It says right here on the key fob 10.00. This weekend of all times. You get all sorts, especially this weekend
I took it from the tone that ‘all sorts’ was not seen as a desirable state of affairs. But wanting to help her achieve a higher state of being (OK wanting to wind her up a bit) I said “How lovely, it must be great to meet a different type of guest than the usual business travellers”.
Her expression suggested that it wasn’t great at all. She showed me to the rather tired room. Never has the word ‘adequate’ been so apt.
It will soon be getting busy. The great unwashed arriving.
I said that it was already very busy and when I dropped my daughter off the town centre was at a near standstill.
I don’t call that traffic. Soon it will be nose to tail all along here. That’s traffic. Every day it’s terrible it is.
“That does make getting about awkward but it’s great for you having so many people pass by, no need to advertise! And great for the town too. If the town is busy it must be good for your business.”
Looks like another muddy one. Last year the mud was terrible. They walked it in everywhere they did.
“Well” I said, looking at the grubby decor “I am surprised as I was at the festival last year and don’t recall any rain. In any case, it doesn’t seem to have done any lasting damage. I guess a wet festival must be good for business as it makes people more likely to use a B&B ”
Forecast for rain, even snow. That will be nice for that lot.
“Oh, the forecast I saw is for it to be a bit chilly but mostly dry. Snow in August. That would give us all a tale to tell!”
The next morning over breakfast the landlady chatted with various guests about various guests. Interesting as I wondered what she was saying about me.
I wonder if we’ll see those two girls? I doubt it. I bet they won’t surface.
“That saves you the trouble of cooking and the cost of the meal. All extra profit.”
That Indian girl’s dad rang at midnight last night to see if she was in. He booked her in here and paid for it.
“It’s wonderful to see a father allowing his daughter the freedom and yet keeping a discrete check.”
One guest asked if the doors were locked at any time and was treated to a sarcastic refresh on how one of the keys opened the front door and the other his room followed by threats of physical harm should anyone lose a key and require letting in late at night, further followed by a critique of the headline acts
Noisy rubbish. Dreadful thumping all night, no proper tunes. Hasn’t been an act worth seeing for years.
“The organisers have to move with the times. Most of the people sitting here paid a lot of money to watch these bands, 90,000 people will be watching tonight plus a large TV audience.”
I’d love to report that my repeated reframing changed her in some way. I doubt it did because she was rarely listening out for anything except a lull in the conversation into which she could inject her opinions. It wasn’t even annoying her so I gave up.
It did change me though. I decided not to ask if my daughter could pop in mid morning to use the shower in my room and I decided to hide the fact that I spilled a large glass of red wine all over the bed. I am sorry – not to the Landlady, the laundry would get it out anyway, but to my daughter who had to go a few days as one of the great unwashed.
At least it didn’t snow.