Up in Watford

Another Premier Inn. “Have you been here before?” the receptionist asks and yes, I think perhaps I have been but it’s honestly hard to tell. It’s in a concrete layby near some roundabouts. There are lots of drunk people in reception. It is somehow devoid of character. Familiar and functional.

It’s funny that we’ve come to this. Generations of human art and ingenuity. Incredible thinkers and makers for hundreds and hundreds of years pushing the boundaries of man-made beauty in architecture and landscaping and interior design and art. All this and yet there’s been this consensus that “they just want it plain and modern.” This is another example of the small people being vocal while the larger ones keep schtumm. If there were antique taps in my room that squeaked a little and needed buffing up, I would enjoy that but I wouldn’t write about it in a review. But someone small would complain. Ditto cracked paint on ancient walls, interesting frayed carpets etc etc… Better to have it all functional and neutral, not being anything so it can substitute for everything. No great beauty as art is subjective and for everyone that loves interesting challenging art, there’s someone else who hates being challenged by something on the wall. This human need for the familiar is not helping culture advance as we become more global. Starbucks, Macdonald’s and all the global food chains pull travellers in when they feel a little lost. It denies them any touch of the unfamiliar. The first time I went to Chicago I had a day. I ran around all over the place, caught a matinee, saw some stuff. Some of the others just saw the inside of an Irish pub.

I would argue that we need the unfamiliar to live a full life. The more we have patterns, the faster time goes, the less we notice and the older and smaller we become. I guess this is why I can’t work in an office.

Here I am in my neutral pared back room with the hum of air conditioning that is going to ruin my throat in the night, and clean starchy pillows, with road noise through the window. I brought half a bottle of wine with me as I’m gonna need to do something to get me to sleep. Brain is still shouting. I had a vacuum sealed half bottle of Ferreret 2020 from the mountainside vineyard in Majorca. I’m drinking it out of a cup hoping it’ll knock me for six before midnight. I’ll be in a school first thing tomorrow and I’ve already been told they haven’t got any equipment for the orange battery which is the heart of the workshop. If that’s the state of it, I’m gonna need to be firing on all cylinders from first thing in the morning to win the room, or I’ll have a horrible day trying to run a workshop where everybody is shouting. I don’t want them to be obedient but I do want them to be engaged and that takes energy.

And I’ve just realised that I think I brought no contact lenses. Which means I’ll be working tomorrow either blind and confused or, more likely, sporting my prescription shades. Let’s see how that goes down…

On the plus side there’s a bath in here that fills in less than 45 minutes.

Author: albarclay

This blog is a work of creative writing. Do not mistake it for truth. All opinions are mine and not that of my numerous employers.

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