Prisoner: Hotel Room H

15 01 2009




                   “I said I wanted a room with a bar, not bars!!!”   (Istanbul)


As long as I have a book, I am quiet happy to be confined to a small room for extended periods of time. Perhaps this stems from a childhood spent in solitary confinement when banging my tin cup across the bedroom door was frowned upon, but I am quite contented in my own company…when prepared for it.

I always travel with a small library of books. When I know that I am staying alone in modest budget hotels in distant lands, I always pack a small shortwave radio to keep me company. I am generally happy enough to sit in my room in the evening, listening to the fizz and crackle of a weak radio signal while through the mosquito net bustles the world or the airborne nasties that want to sup on my flesh.

However, if I am not expecting such confinement and I am not prepared for such sensory deprivation, I have been known to end up like Steve McQueen in “The Great Escape” and spend my time throwing rolled-up socks against the wall.

I was due to spend a couple of nights in a good centrally-located hotel in Sydney, Australia on my way home. I had arrived in the late evening after a long day and a tiring flight and headed to my room. Although tastefully appointed, it was conservative in size…but did have a television at the foot of the bed. I dashed out to get some food, laid my feast on the bed and flicked on the television ready for an evening of Australian “Big Brother”.

As I tucked into my burger, the TV warmed up to a soft glow. Alas, there was no picture. I played with the remote but got nowhere. I crawled over the scattered fries and played with the TV itself, but still nothing. Finishing my gourmet meal, I phoned the front desk and told them of my predicament. They replied that cable was down for most of the city and would be fixed by the morning.

During the flight I had finished my last book. It was too late to get a newspaper and there were no magazines. My iPod had died so I rolled over to the bedside table to explore the clock radio. Unfortunately, it was all clock and no radio and offered no entertainment beyond watching the LED digits changing.

I drew back the curtain hoping at least for a view of a park full of frolicking possums, but instead I stared into a canyon of large, dark office buildings. I returned to the bed. I didn’t need to re-pack my bag as I had done that expertly that morning. There were no holes to sew in my socks; I wasn’t keeping a diary; I’d sent my postcards; I always lost when I played noughts-and-crosses by myself and had never bothered to download games onto my mobile phone. I was too tired to go out for a wander and too awake to go to sleep.

Lying on my back, I tried to name the countries of the world, but kept losing count and repeating myself. I tried capital cities but became similarly lost. I attempted to count the stucco on the ceiling but went cross-eyed. Finally, I removed my socks, rolled them into balls and played catch…by myself. Eventually, I felt sufficiently tired to attempt sleep, climbed into bed, turned off the light and lay in the darkness watching the red light of the TV taunting me mercilessly.

The following morning I awakened early and flicked on the TV. There was still no signal. I looked into the hall to see if I had a newspaper, but I didn’t. I phoned the front desk to request one but was told I had to have ordered it the previous evening. I would have had a nice leisurely soak in the bath, but there was only a stand-up shower. It was a Sunday and too early for anything to be open…and the rain made a walk fairly unappealing. Eventually, it was time to venture out. I had a full and rewarding day of sightseeing with friends, an early dinner and returned to my room ready for a quiet evening of TV viewing ahead of an early trip to the airport.

I kicked-off my shoes, sprawled on the bed and flicked on the TV. The screen warmed to a milky white. I stared, disbelieving until distracted by a rustle at the door. A notice had been delivered announcing that the cable was still off and wouldn’t be returned until the following afternoon. Newspapers were available if requested by 8pm. I looked at my watch: it was 8:05pm.

I picked up my socks and returned to the centre of my cell.

Photo and post by: Simon Vaughan




One response

15 01 2009
Raj Virdi

I am definitely going to try play soccer with my socks to fall asleep … great blog btw …

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