I take myself a quick look round to check everything's hunky dory.
Sure enough it's all the way I remember it. The little notepad at the side of the bed; the white plastic biro; the long blue sofa; the bright menu for the room service nosh.
Tonight's window view could be better: the old factory wall ain't what you'd call inspiring, but it'll take more than that to get me down.
They always stick the bathroom right there next to the door don't they? Funny thing, but it's like I'm drawn straight towards the taps. I love the whoosh that surges around the room when you turn them on. It's diamond. It's like they've got a natural spring supply somewhere on the main road or something.
As it happens, this one's got a nice lived-in feel: the bath's gleaming white at the sides, but down the bottom of it, it's lost a bit of its sparkle. Some scratches on the tiles too and the lino's seen better days, but to be honest, I find rooms like this one reassuring.
I love the little rectangle of soap that's always there on the sink. Wrapped up like a personalised gift. Carefully I open it and grab hold like it's a mobile. I let my fingers run across the smooth surface. Then I hold it to my nose-there ain't no great scent to it, but no matter. Just having it left for me makes me feel like I'm at home.
I guess you've noticed how there's always that message stuck to the tiles? The one about putting your towels in the bath if you want em changed? Help us to help our environment it says, but what they really mean is help us to save us some cash. Quite right. You don't want to be wasteful-it's why our country's in the state it's in. Millions of little bits of wastefulness all add up. You've done it yourself. Under Blair we was all letting it slip through our fingers-never thought it would ever matter. Anyway, the towel thing don't affect me. I'm only ever staying one night, but if it were two, I'd always re-use. Just so's you know.
Once the water's piping hot, I ease myself in. I'm in there like a liner launching off the quayside. The heat surges through me and I settle down, enjoying the quiet. I'm calm. I'm calm. I let my mind wander through an evening to myself. Soon I'll be lying on the bed flicking through the channels. I'll try and find me a football match if I can. Always love the chance to see a live game. I can still remember the thrill of it when I was a youngster. The FA Cup final or an England match. Sitting on the couch with dad, scarves round our necks. Brilliant times they was...
I dry off then slip under the covers and scan until I find a Spanish 2nd Division game. I always wonder about them geezers in the studio. How they landed firmly on their feet. Nice suits. Flashy teeth-whitened grins. All for being blessed with the ability to kick a ball across a few blades of grass. A few years of running and now all they have to do is talk. Set up for life they are. Can't imagine John Barnes celebrating a night at a Travelodge...
Still, I'm a happy man. I'm warm. Took me a couple of weeks to save for this here night out. I usually book em up in advance at the library computers. It's cosy in there and if you're clever about it you can follow the deals. Got this one for nineteen quid, didn't I. Makes me smile. I'm having the time of my life. It's a far cry from a night dossing I can tell you.
Tomorrow I'll be back round my patch. It's a good one. Meet loads of folk coming out of the Tesco. Most of em just blank me, but just enough of em give eye contact, and one or two'll stop and buy the Issue. Helps when they smile. Makes a difference.
As soon as I get back there, I'll start saving for another night like this. Tell you what-meet you back here two weeks from now? Maybe speak to you then...
Posted on imperfect prose