Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Ta, London - 2

Airport hotels have been holding passengers for ransom for years.  It doesn't matter why you now have to check into one, they don't care.  That's because "Thar's gold in them there hicks!  Let's take it!"

The Park Inn Heathrow was no exception.  There were three tour buses parked out in front and the lobby was filled with people milling about as uniformed tour guides bellowed out names.  Corporate types in suits (male and female) crowded the bar.  Interestingly the bar top was luminous glass which cast a really unflattering view of every face above it.  

We were given keys and staggered off with our luggage to said room.   There were no ash trays in it.  So I called the desk and was merrily told "That's because it's a no smoking room!" (as if to an idiot.)  After some negotiation we were told to wait there; someone would bring us a key to an okay to smoke room.

Hoping to speed the process, we loaded up and took it all down to the elevator to wait for the person.  Finally a woman arrived, handed us a key and took off.  

The new room was a smoking room, but again, no ashtray.  I called Housekeeping this time and was politely told that "All of our ashtrays are in use right now (HUH?) but I'll check the ballrooms."  In a few moments, there was a tap at the door and an arm handed Richie an ash tray.

We went down to the bar for the necessary pint.  Since lunch was only a vague memory; I think we shared a small bag of peanuts, we were well ready for dinner.  There was a great long line snaking into the restaurant, so we returned to the bar and got a table, an enormous booth that would easily have seated six or eight people.  

A nice-looking couple looked around at all the filled tables and approached and asked if we would mind sharing the booth?  "Of course not!" we said in unison and they sat down.  They were from Norfolk and he was a retired policeman.  He said he never carried a gun in the entire 30 years of his career.  "Only a truncheon," he said with a smile. 

They were flying to Chicago the next morning to take a tour of Route 66, all the way to California where they would fly back to Heathrow. 

He told us a funny story.  His station got a call from a man the police all knew well.  He was threatening to kill himself.  When they arrived, he opened the door and stood in the doorway.  In one hand, he held a bottle of pills; the other pressed the point of a butcher knife at his heart.  He whined that he didn't know which to use to kill himself and this cop said, "Tell you what, mate, I''ll help you out - I'll slam this door!"

We roared.  He was an excellent raconteur.  Cops usually are and we were lucky to have their company.

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