It’s called having high standards

I have just torn a hot floury chapatti in two.

I am in London and I always try to eat Indian food when I’m back in the UK.

I have a thing about restaurants though, I don’t like places that are too crowded. Or too empty. Or grotty. Or too posh. Nothing dirty and cramped. I hate canteens and plastic furniture.

Yes, I am a little fussy when picking a place to eat, I like the clean and contemporary feel, classy but not silly, spacious but charming; the sort of place that cleans the table between customers.

I am fussy about hotels too.

As I age, I am less willing to sleep on a bench covered in sackcloth and urine.

Yesterday I insisted my pillow was changed to feather and down, rather than the gravel initially supplied. I can be quite demanding when pushed.

When first shown to my room, I felt like The Queen being asked to inspect an elderly man’s stools. It was a ghastly square inch of tatty space, tiny shower squashed in the corner. No toilet.

It’s my fault. I always try to find the hidden gem, the secret, the one for me that no-one else knows. Why can’t I settle for an anonymous hotel, decent and reliable? I seem to believe, despite abundant absence of evidence, that there’s always the perfect one for me, and it’s my job to find it.

I keep searching for it.

This is a quality of mine.

Other qualities include being annoying and argumentative.

Earlier today I chatted with a lovely colleague and mentioned that schools in Spain were often religious (this isn’t particularly accurate, it’s just how it came out) to which she answered an assertive “oh that’s good” (technically she interrupted me because I hadn’t actually finished), I was explaining how happy I was with my kids’ school because it wasn’t religious, the school was a liberal secular cooperative and when I explained this, she was genuinely shocked. I tried to not be confrontational about it, but somehow I’d managed to engineer an awkward disagreement with someone I barely knew on a topic as sensitive as her faith.

I felt like Larry David.

There was a Larry David interview in today’s Observer. I bought it but it didn’t have the monthly magazine with the interview, and by the time I realised and had gone back to the shop, the woman had thrown them out. She argued with me, shouting that she’d told me to pick up the magazine (she hadn’t) but it was moot. The copies were gone. Pointing fingers and blaming was not going to help (although, for clarity, it was her fault). There was nothing to be done. I walked up Baker Street to Regent’s Park and went in another newsagent and said “I bought The Observer earlier and it didn’t have the magazine” and he said just to take one from the copy outside. This taught me about the importance of determination and the usefulness of lying in terms of getting what you want.

Although technically I didn’t lie.

I’m now back in my hotel. I guess this is what the first night in prison must feel like.

The window doesn’t close. I struggled to even close the curtain. The room down the corridor with the toilet is barely wide enough to send a stream of wee down without touching the sides.

This is not where I wanted to be at this stage of life.



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