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This is a question Hotel Splendido

Enzyme writes, "what about awful hotels, B&Bs, or friends' houses where you've had no choice but to stay the night?"

What, the place in Oxford that had the mattresses encased in plastic (crinkly noises all night), the place in Blackpool where the night manager would drum to the music on his ipod on the corridor walls as he did his rounds, or the place in Lancaster where the two single beds(!) collapsed through metal fatigue?

Add your crappy hotel experiences to our list.

(, Thu 17 Jan 2008, 16:05)
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Halls of residence 1987 - 1988: A tale of boy meets girl, loses girl, and jumps out of window
School French trip, 1984. Ah, the memories. I’d got talking to a girl sat in front of me on the bus, and instantly felt an attraction to her. It was her eyes, I think – deep, dark, mysterious, exotic. I was intoxicated by her. However, being a painfully shy, skinny adolescent, I didn’t do anything about it. Plus, it appeared she was more interested in my mate. Anyway, after a week, we got back to the old homestead, she moved away a couple of weeks later due to her dad relocating, and that was that.

Fast forward a couple of years, and I’m off to college. A last minute decision (even though I’d been accepted months before), my dithering indecisiveness being based on the fact that none of my mates were going (having all opted to stay on in sixth form and do A levels). I think I made the decision on the Friday before I was due to start, buoyed slightly by my mum giving me an encouraging push. “Don’t be such a fucking idiot” I think were her exact words. Anyway, off I went, and because of the travelling distance involved, I stayed in halls Monday – Friday and went home at weekends.

The halls of residence were a slightly daunting experience at first, and certainly not what I was expecting. You could, I suppose, call it quaint in this day and age. Whilst it wasn’t desperately crappy, it was ruled with a rod of iron. Almost like being in public school in the 1920s, one would imagine. The first night pep talk from the halls overlords was like a lecture on the perils of male/female social interaction. Indeed, even though the halls were mixed, there was clear segregation of the sexes, both wings of the four story block being sealed off on each floor by a locked door. You could play pool or watch TV with each other, even sit NEXT to members of the opposite sex at breakfast and dinner, but post watershed relations were strictly forbidden. The rooms themselves were little more than a 10 by 10 box, the visible breezeblocks covered in very thin Happy Shopper whitewash bought as a job lot from the council, offset by a basic bed with the loudest springs and stiffest blankets imaginable. Alongside the bed was an MDF construct masquerading as a bedside table / drawers combination, plus a built in lockable wardrobe and a sink unit with mirror. Toilets and bathrooms were along the corridor next to the communal kitchen. Curfew was strictly 10:30pm, at which point the main doors to the outside world were locked and bolted, and it was lights out at 11 (yeah, right).

Despite these restrictions, and despite not really knowing anyone, I soon struck up some friendships outside of the initial body of people with whom I’d been at school but hadn’t really kicked around with. It was the usual scenario really – anyone who seemed to have vaguely the same tastes as you (often identified by what was blaring from their stereos), and you would strike up conversation. Within a week I had established a new circle of friends to go to the pub with. Until 10:20 at any rate – we did, after all, have to get back to our POW camp before the overlords meted out a severe punishment (usually by not leaving biscuits out in the kitchen to go with our milky drinks).

One acquaintance, though, was totally unexpected. The object of my desire in France all those years ago was also residing in the halls, and pretty soon we struck up a friendship, followed by more. My first love. And it was shackled somewhat by the overly security conscious hall overlords. Damn them and their keys and their curfews. Damn them all to… What’s that? One of the lads doing a building course has his own toolbag, you say? With a screwdriver that fits the mechanism of the doors of chastity? Well, get to work loosening the mechanism so that the cover can be moved and the catch released then…

So that’s what happened. And every night, we’d go trooping off upstairs, have our biscuits and milky drinks, then wait until after 11 when we were sure that the overlords were settled in for the night. At which point, the doors of chastity would be sneakily opened and bodies would disappear into realms where they quite frankly shouldn’t have been…

And thus started 9 months of almost nightly bucking the system and getting one over on the adults in charge. Until one of the cleaners noticed that cover on the locking mechanism wobbled slightly as she let herself through and reported it to the powers that be, who struck us down with great vengeance and furious anger. By securing the mechanism again.

Ah well. It was discovered only a few weeks before the summer break, so it wasn’t so bad in the end. After the summer, on return to college we broke up (more her decision than mine) and I began to question my decision to move back into halls. I made one last ditch attempt to speak to her (if only to find out why she had ended things between us), which rather daringly involved me following her up to her room to try and talk and resulted in my jumping out of a second story window after she stormed off the get the overlord… I still don’t know to this day what happened. However, I do know that she took up with a bloke who used to regularly thrash her, and who she subsequently married and had kids with. Haven’t seen her in nearly 20 years.

I moved out after two weeks and into a shared house with a couple of mates I’d been in the halls with the previous year. That’s where my education really started, and where the quality of accommodation really went down the pan…
(, Tue 22 Jan 2008, 13:32, 1 reply)
I like this. Like a modern day Romeo & Juliet, although with less poison-ed lips and more screwdrivers!
(, Tue 22 Jan 2008, 14:28, closed)

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