I have a voicemail message!!!
This is more sinister than it sounds. Because I am not actually at home. I’ve left the comforting surroundings of rural Norfolk, and I’m staying in a posh hotel in Marylebone Lane, London.
The red light blinks at me, threateningly.
My mind races. As far as I was aware, nobody knows that I’m here. Something is going on. I think back, furiously.
The LTLP knows that I’m here. But she is in the en-suite, weeing. I think it’s unlikely that she will telephone me to tell me that.
The bus driver. He could have abandoned his bus and followed us from Oxford Street.
I listen hard. There is no sound of car horns, or angry bus commuters shouting.
I go to play the message but stop myself in time. I have seen enough films to know that as soon as I walk up to the phone and pick it up, somebody will shoot me through the window. I don’t have many enemies but SOMEONE IS OUT TO GET ME.
It could be Dido’s manager.
Eventually, I pluck up the courage to press ‘play’. After a bit of whirring, a voice says:
“Good afternoon! This is [insert person’s first name which I’ve actually forgotten but don’t want to make something up] on Reception. I’m just making a courtesy call to check whether everything is all right with the room.”
Oh. It is worse than I thought. Someone is asking me if I am all right.
Not content with coming up to me in restaurants and gratuitously asking me if I am all right, they have decided to do this in hotels as well now.
Well, let me tell you, Ms Reception person, I am a red-blooded Englishman and if things were not all right I am PERFECTLY CAPABLE of pretending that they are, thank you very much.
Let’s face it. The walls could be damp, the bath could be swimming in human excrement and the TV could be stuck on an endless repeat of ‘Behind the Music: The Stereophonics’ and the question ‘is everything all right’ would still elicit a complicit nod.
Why do they do it? They know all the above. They know they won’t get a straight answer.
They caused alarm and panic for nothing.
And that is not all right.