“There you go. Room 123, sir. Down the corridor.”


I wandered out of the foyer, just catching the start of the next interaction at the reception desk. “I’d like to complain in the strongest possible terms about my room…”

Room 123 was certainly down the corridor. There is a law in country house hotels that states that your room is never actually in the country house, but has to be situated in a late-sixties concrete annexe that has been bolted on the back by somebody who forged their architecture certificate.

I hiked down the corridor.

Our room was not exactly how the description on the leaflet had portrayed it. It was a sort of cross between a hotel room and a place to which Mr Howard would send people for processing. I gazed sadly through the window out onto the Gatwick flight path.

Dinner was interesting, and silver service (of course). The melon starter was, well, melony, but was nothing compared to the beef, which appeared to have been sourced from the Screwfix catalogue. But there was wine – lots of wine – and the goodwill and cheer from being there to support a Good Cause.

“This is all odd, isn’t it?” I remarked, as I sat back with Short Tony, Big A and the womenfolk (that is a really good and useful word that I haven’t used before). The fact was, that we’d never been out of the village together before. It was like one of those sitcom Christmas specials where you take the normal characters but set it overseas for no particular reason.

I had another drink whilst Big A hit the dancefloor like a man gesticulating angrily to a friend at a seventh floor window.