Saturday, April 18, 2020

Chekhov’s gun

I alluded to this story a few posts ago - I was out with Mrs AC and I was telling her about something stupid which then prompted me to tell her about this blog - here is the story that I was telling her. 

As I've mentioned in previous posts I travel a lot. Now to some people (cough, Mrs AC, cough) any form of travelling involves packing 2 or 3 massive suitcases to the brim then struggling to move them at every step of their journey. Not me though. I usually travel pretty light and I can usually have a few weeks away with just a regular sized carry on plus a separate briefcase. This saves me time at airports, avoiding check in queues and waiting for bags to be delivered which can sometimes take longer than the actual flight. It also allows me to use public transport to and from airports if that's more convenient to me.

On every trip I have my list of essentials such as laptop, chargers etc but sometimes I have to get some laundry done mid trip – this isn't as much as a PITA as you think it might be though as I usually find a hotel that has a laundry room or even a public laundry where I'll drop my things off, head for a couple of beers and return a couple of hours later. No sweat. On some trips I have to pack a few non essentials like a dinner suit and shoes but I still manage to get away without checking bags. I'll scrimp on a spare pair of shoes or not take gym kit if need be if only to accommodate my one absolute, definite, must have item. But I've not always packed this item – I only started doing so in the last few years – and I'll explain why now.

A couple of years ago I'd returned from Spain and was staying in a small hotel in London for a couple of days before heading somewhere else. I'd never needed this particular item before and it certainly had never crossed my mind to have packed it, in fact I'm not entirely certain that I owned this at the time.

It's the middle of the night and I'm slowly waking up in unfamiliar surroundings because I'm busting for a piss – I'd had a few beers the previous evening with a friend but it certainly wasn't a heavy session. As I come round I'm trying to work out where I am and where the bathroom is, but for the life of me I can't find the light switch on the table next to the bed. In fact I can't find the table which should be next to the bed and I'm not actually in bed at all. I seem to be on the floor. I also seem to be in a corridor rather than in my hotel room. And still busting for a piss. Really, really busting for a piss. Did I mention that I'm naked as well? Suddenly busting for a piss doesn't seem to be so important now.

So having come to my senses I need a plan. I stumble through the corridors to find my room, desperately hoping that my door hasn't slammed shut behind me but I'm way out of luck. The hotel isn't big enough to have any need for a phone on each floor and there's no bathroom anywhere without going through the lobby. I'm glad that it's 4am as the chances of anyone other than hotel staff being around are pretty minimal.

It's also pertinent at this point to come back to a very minor detail that I explained earlier in the story – that I'd just come back from Spain. This invokes the principle of Chekhov's gun that every minor detail included in the telling of a story must be relevant or discarded if it's not necessary Where I'd been in Spain had plenty of mosquitos and I think every single one of them had taken a bite out of me during my stay there. I mean every single one as I've got dozens and dozens of bite marks over my body – bizarrely none on my face or head but my torso is literally covered in bite marks. I'd been back in the UK for a few days – earlier in the week I'd probably have looked like a plague victim but now I just look like I'm recovering from the plague. So I'm naked, busting for a piss and look like I've recently had the plague. And I'm locked out of my hotel room in the middle of the night. 

Luckily there are a couple of room service trays outside a few of the rooms on my floor and I fashion a makeshift modesty protector out of two of them. I head down to the lobby and poke my head out of the lift to make sure that the place is deserted before I go to the reception desk. I explain that I've been sleepwalking and I'm in room 1234 and I'm handed a replacement room key. I'm shocked. I've not been asked for any ID so surely anyone could pull this trick to gain entry!! 

I head back to the room and I put my case against the door to try to prevent me doing this again – hopefully I'll fall over and wake up before getting out of the room if I have another unplanned walk. 

So the one, must have, unforgettable item I now pack is a simple pair of pyjamas – I've not found myself in this situation since but if I do manage a repeat at least I won't be naked.

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