(posted by Alan)
Ok, time to go ‘native’ and regale you with some Nottingham vignettes that have entertained or amused me over the past 8 months since arriving here. This will be the first; there will be a few more to come over the next few days.
My first introduction to Nottingham, was the far from salubrious establishment, the Clarence Hotel, in Alfreton Road. Before arriving here, I’d been unemployed and was staying with my sister-in-law in Surrey. I’d been there just over 2 months and was rapidly approaching a state of ‘skint-ness’ so whatever place I was to stay in would have to be cheap, really cheap. And, the cheapest place to be found on the net, at £25 per night, was the Clarence so the Clarence it was to be. I arrived there late on the Sunday evening before my first day at work.
The first thing that strikes you about the Clarence is the blast of stale cigarette smoke that hits you on entering the place. After that, the smell is a nagging presence that never quite leaves you, even to someone like myself who is constantly reaching for the next fag. The smell of fags, patterned carpet, décor that combines mock Victorian with Seventies bric-a-brac and an out-size TV screen, and the bar which seems constantly occupied by hardened drinkers could put the Clarence in almost every town and city found in the UK. The taciturn landlord, never quite friendly, usually acceptably civil and occasionally helpful, must be a type specially bred to run such places. I was given my keys and I lugged my cases up two flights of stairs.
Naturally, the room came equipped with a small TV bolted on to a strange contraption that swivels high above one’s head, almost out of viewing reach, and a tray was present with kettle, cups, tea and coffee, and biscuits that hardly ever got replenished. But, to my great amazement, the sheets and pillow cases were pure cotton – I’d been prepared to catch hives or some hideous rash from exposure to the dreadful synthetic bedding one usually finds in such places. And, even better, it had its own private bathroom (the size of a small cupboard) with a ‘power-shower’. I had arrived…
At work, the following day, my new colleagues asked me where I was staying. They were absolutely horrified to hear that I was staying in Alfreton Road – ‘Someone was murdered there two weeks ago…you can’t stay there!’ There was such a commotion about it that I started to feel quite embarrassed as if I had committed some cardinal sin against the consultants’ code of conduct – thou shalt stay in well-appointed, middle-of-the-road, safe places like a Moat House or Holiday Inn. My constant retort was, ‘I come from South Africa so it will make me feel like I’m back home.’
I stayed there for 3 weeks (barring one Saturday night when I had to move somewhere else for the night as I’d cocked up my booking) without incident and became a regular at Daddy C’s, the Jamaican takeaway across the road. Actually, there was one incident on the Friday before I left the place…
I’d been out and got back late to find an incredibly gorgeous man sprawled across the stairs. He had the face of an angel and the body of a Greek god, much of it exposed by a shirt that was rucked up under his armpits. I tried to wake him up but he was incapable of anything but shift his legs and utter a few undecipherable words. I went down to the bar and asked if anyone knew who he was. A group of men, hell-bent on conquering some ladies of the night that seemed all cleavage and nothing else, said that he was a friend of theirs but to leave him be. I returned up the stairs and tried to get the guy to move again.
This time, with lots of help from me, he managed to stagger up and muttered a room number. Both of us staggered down the corridor, me bearing most of his weight, very conscious of his very muscular frame, despite the slackness induced by too much alcohol. He managed to find his key and I helped him into his room where he collapsed on to a bed, murmuring something about me helping him out of his clothes.
Now, it isn’t that often that I am faced with undressing someone quite so delicious. So, I didn’t hesitate and after much tugging and pulling, managed to get him down to his boxer shorts. All sorts of bad thoughts were flashing through my head and I was sorely tempted to let my hands do some wandering, testing the waters, so to speak. At this point, some of you may be thinking that there is some sort of exciting ending to this story? But, alas, some long-buried sense of morality surfaced itself and I left him there, un-molested, looking back longingly as I left the room. I couldn’t get him out of my mind for hours after that.!
The next time I saw him was at about 10am the next day when I saw his friends helping him into a taxi headed towards the city centre. Oh well, another missed opportunity….