Great expectations … a pun intended!
I am on my way to my first writer’s group meeting at a local hotel; a little step from my comfort zone. I have a little stash of tried and tested tools to make these little expeditions more comfortable; mascara, lippy never leave home without them – but not well plastered. The right outfit a subtle blend of clean and and not too tidy; so I don’t stand out too much. But I still need to be noticed so a scarf with a strategic twist.
I knew the place; I had been here before for a work’s christmas social then the inmates are well oiled and happy. I had not noticed then the building and its overall shabbiness. It had been a theatre formerly and I assume very grand and elegant. Now, it had been hideously renovated with a Charles Dickens’ theme. That was cold and unwelcoming; no christmas carols (no pun intended) and swaths of decorations. More like the public houses found around the entrance to a railway station.
It was too much to expect waitress service and a choice of tea and a pot!!
I remain unruffled; although the idea of a Writing Group was not so engaging. I remembered now that a quiz was on the menu. This was a good distraction, delaying tactic, call it what you will; I can invent those at a drop of a hat. I waited my turn as the other writers in the growing queue shuffled uncomfortably. Watching the small gatherings in dimly lit corners of the bar; getting more like Fagin’s den – I warming to the Dickens’ theme. The sounds of street and the passing traffic echoed coldly as the entrance doors swung open. Letting in a blast of cool air and the not so delicate fragrance of toilet cleanser. Thinking, that cigarette smoke would have disguised that rather unpleasant smell.
Eventually my turn came; the barman, a boy he seemed, serving us through a tussle of blond curls without the honour of eye contact. Clearly, he had lost the will to live and the desire to please after serving various pints of beer, lager and coke in close succession. Oh! I forgot that is what a barman does. And now me; wanting to know what teas they served as if I was in the Ritz. ‘Normal’ he said as he sidled away to dunk a tea bag into a mug scalding water dispensed from a tap by the coffee machine. Before I could continue my lady at the Ritz routine ‘What no Earl Grey with lemon?’
Ah well, it can only get better …