This hotel is brand new. One half is a university students’ hostel, the other an apartment hotel. Car parking is ample and free of charge. The students we saw coming and going from the lobby were easily our social superiors. The check-in guy was clean and polite, and without being asked supplied us with a free map of the town centre and marked our position with a biro cross. Although a functionary, this man was also our social superior. ‘Are you here for business or pleasure, madam?’ he asked my companion. She and I hadn’t actually met until about half an hour earlier and our intention was to quickly get to know one another as soon as the door of the room had closed behind us, maybe go out for something to eat later, then come back and carry on getting to know each other. ‘Business, babe,’ she laughed.
The whole check-in experience was fast, easy and smooth. Though situated right next to the railway station, the apartments were more than adequately insulated against noise from outside and from each other. Ours was spotlessly clean and the kitchen area well equipped. Sachets of tea and coffee were provided, also shortbread biscuits, over which we had our first small disagreement. I picked up the remote and flicked on the adequate-sized telly. The BBC News Channel with subtitles for the hard of hearing came up. I kept it on without the sound, and watched a clip of some pro-Russian or very Russian rebels silently shelling Ukrainian positions. Then we started to get to know one another.
We began in the unambiguous way in which they generally begin in pornography films. In musical terms, if I may, her embouchure and handling were virtuoso, the arrangement a rhapsody accelerando with finale. Her repertoire included tremolo and glissando. The mood varied from dolente to furioso to delirio.
During one of the slow movements, I looked up and saw that the news had been paused for a weather forecast. Interested, I studied the symbols on the weatherman’s map and carefully watched his pointing arm and read the subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing underneath. The subtitles were computer-generated using speech-recognition software. If in doubt about a word used by the cheerful weatherman, the computer plumped for the word that it had used the most often before in its career. In our part of the country, then, after a wet start tomorrow, we were going to enjoy ‘Sunni intervals’. So that was good. Northern Ireland, too, could look forward to ‘the cloud partially clearing from the west and Sunni spells’ from mid-afternoon onwards.
After a while we dispensed with polite formalities and got on with it. At one point I thought she said, ‘That hurts,’ and I stopped immediately. But I’m getting a little deaf in my old age and what she’d actually said was, ‘Hurt me’. Later she said, ‘I’m hungry. Are you?’ I agreed that I was, very, and we got ready to go out and look for somewhere to eat. She went first into the spacious and well-appointed bath and shower room. Everything in it was brand new. The heated towel rail was scalding hot, which was great. The bathroom was off the kitchen, separated from it by a sliding door.
Presently there came piercing shrieks from the bathroom. I rushed through and flung back the sliding door. The room was fogged with steam and the floor awash with hot water. Walls, mirror, lavatory and ceiling were streaming. She had reached into the glass-sided shower cubicle and pulled the chrome tap lever, apparently, and the hot water had come out of the shower head with the force of a water cannon. The shower head had leapt out of its retaining bracket and it and its flexible pipe were thrashing about like a mortally wounded snake. Her attempts to reach in and grab the dancing shower head had ended in soaking failure. Now mine did too. The water issued from the nozzle with such violent force that I was beaten back by it twice. Only by feinting and coming at it from underneath could I get the lever tap shut, by which time the kitchen floor and part of the bedroom floor, as well as the bathroom floor, were flooded.
The suddenness of the drama and the appalling consequences were surreal. As we stood in the steaming, soaking bathroom looking at each other, she looked strangely exalted. Then, quite unexpectedly, she took a swing and punched me in the mouth out of sheer exuberance, and I went out to eat with a fat lip.
I am not normally the type of person to post on TripAdvisor. But please be warned, the showers in this otherwise perfectly acceptable hotel are verging on the dangerous.