Monday, 18 August 2008

Shining Hospitality


A recent trip to "The North" has yielded a bountiful harvest of note-worthy scenes for these pages. Alas, I failed to pack the camera so this picture from some fifteen years ago will suffice - nothing has changed in the world of Scottish commercial hospitality. On the family's return trip from Inverness we were treated to a "Shining" experience at a very run down and tired "Country House Hotel". The plastic garden furniture arranged on the worn tarmac driveway at the foot of the grand entrance stairs was an accurate gauge of just how far fallen this establishment was. Thoughtfully placed in such a prominent position, this was obviously the smoking zone for the chef, a liberal sprinkling of Lambert & Butler stubs garnished with squeezed tea bags was all the clue we needed. Upon approaching the reception desk we were greeted by the sole staff member, whilst the desk was graced with a flat screen monitor and 'phone, neither appeared to be plugged in and the lilies in the dirty vase were well past there sell by date. Out of a sense of adventure and with a thought to Stanley Kubrick's feel for what a deserted hotel should offer, we decided to take a room for the night. The enormous, once glamorous, hotel was devoid of life and much stair climbing and marching along endless corridors lead us to a pretty average, though unkempt, room. To conform to expectations the bath tap was dripping profusely producing that distinctive brown streak on the enamel and the lino had retreated from the skirting like mould in a tea cup, revealing that half inch gap of musty, damp, dust gathering matter that is best not investigated too closely. In an attempt to change the stale air I enthusiastically hauled at the sash windows, having cracked away the painted seal the rotted cords let go and with a crash, fresh air rushed in - a nearby '70s hard-wired hair dryer had just enough flex to serve as a sash prop. I'm sure you can imagine the scene. I'm very pleased to have dug out this earlier picture from the previously blogged Beattock House Hotel - the carpet here is a fine example of the sort of thing we're up against. I called at Beattock only to find the BHH now closed.

9 comments:

Peter Ashley said...

Welcome back Diplo. We were all getting very worried about you. Anyway,so good to see the superb Banks & Piper photograph again. Martin Parr go and, well, weep, for want of using another, more apt, expression.

Toby Savage said...

Yes. Welcome back and I am sure I speak for all when I say we look forward to exciting blogs to come. I went to Scotland 4 years ago. Dreadfull food, that had to be eaten absurdly early, quite the worst weather I have ever experienced on a May Bank Holiday and lousy beer. I shall never return.

A F-A said...

Your welcome third-ed! But I must express surprise at your comments on Scottish hostelries. Remember: Richard (later Sir) Hannay fared well enough in such places to be inspired to save the Empire on various occasions (notably when engaged in solving the riddle of The 39 Steps).

Look forward to you doing much the same on your return to civilisation....!

Diplomat said...

I seem to remember Dicky was busy drying stockings in front of the fire - it rained on him too.

Peter Ashley said...

Dicky fiddling about with stockings is the one of the most erotic things in the Robert Donat film of his adventures. Forth Bridge comes a close second.

Thud said...

You no doubt paid handsomely as well for this holiday delight?

Ron Combo said...

Diplo, Viscount Ashley of Slawston has told me that the recumbent gentleman is Ashley Banks of Crowland. Is it really? Is he still with us? I doff my hat to him as he introduced me to Worthington White Shield, a long, long time ago. A good chap.

Diplomat said...

Ah Ron - indeed, I thought you may have had sight of this picture before. Certainly still around, although this picture is a bout 15 years old now - grouse shooting trip. The enthusiastic scotsman failing to rouse Sir Banks from his post-prandial snooze is one of a pair of resident pipers (brothers of the house keeper)at the Beattock House, they both played in the Hotel bar one night, a room of perhaps 12 feet square, no more. See post "Grousing Matilda" on this blog.

Peter Ashley said...

Come on Diplo, don't slip back into your pale, summer beer torpor. MORE DIPLO PLEASE.