This week, the trains are all having a well-earned holiday, which means that my commute has become almost impossible. I’m working nights all this week, so get around the travel problem, work have sent me on a well-earned holiday too, and have put me up in a three star hotel with approximately a billion rooms that is mostly filled with backpackers, tour parties of Americans in ill-advised shorts and enormous groups of schoolchildren.
My room is actually not too bad, but the hotel itself is intriguing for the industrial scale on which it operates and the odd things they have in reception. There’s a whole unstaffed supermarket, with fridges full of drinks and food and snacks, with self-service checkouts. There’s a whole range of middling bars and cafes. There’s an enormous soulless pub, facing on to the street outside, catering strictly to the foreign tourist market, that is literally called “London Pub”.
And just beside the lifts, there’s a vending machine for the essentials you might have forgotten when you packed your bag. Do you need to stock up on toothpaste or shampoo or painkillers or condoms or batteries or SIM cards or plug adapters or padlocks?
No? Well, perhaps what you’re missing is souvenirs to take back home, to give to your loved ones as a reminder of your wonderful time in London. Don’t worry, the amazing hotel reception vending machine has you covered there too. You can choose from a toy black London cab, a toy red London bus, a gold model of Big Ben or a gold model of Tower Bridge. Your nearest and dearest are sure to be thrilled.
I know you’re going to feel like you’re missing out, but don’t despair. I’m here until the end of the week, so if you send the money I’ll happily get vending on your behalf. Just let me know which classy souvenirs have caught your eye.