I won the Australian Nationals again, to my surprise. Having done minimal study over the past few months, I fully expected my paucity of CSW12 expertise to be thoroughly exposed. But it turned out I was able to get by.
I arrived in Hobart on Good Friday evening, and on reaching the Black Buffalo Hotel at about 9.45 I read a notice on the door which instructed me to ring a certain number (too bad, I suppose, if I hadn’t had a phone on me). A gruff male voice answered with a “Yes?”. I explained that I had a booking and needed to check in. My interlocutor took an age to find me on the list, and after grudgingly accepting that I was registered, yelled “Why are you so late?”
“What do you mean, late? I’ve just arrived from Melbourne”
“You should have been here by three o’clock!”
“Why? I wasn’t aware of that.”
After a pause, I continued, “Are you going to let me in?”
He acknowledged that he would, and slammed the phone down. Meanwhile a couple of other unregistered guests (Noel and Owen, also playing in the tournament) had turned up alongside me and awaited entry. A large-bellied balding gentleman with a short neck appeared from the gloom within the hotel, shuffling to the door and activating the entry. He surveyed us with a contemptuous mien, barking “Fisher! Sixteen”.
I asked if he was the owner, and he said no, the night manager. I told him that he was extraordinarily rude and unwelcoming, and his response was something like “Tough.”
I went upstairs and found Chris, who had already texted to advise that we had been allocated one queen-size bed in our room rather than two twin beds, as booked. We went back down to raise the issue with our host, who was still dealing with the other arrivals. Once they had been sent packing I explained the situation, whereupon he shrugged his arms aggressively, saying, “I can’t do anything about it! We’re fully booked”. I repeated that we had booked a twin room, and he told me “There’s nothing left. I’m not going to get into another argument with you.” “Well, can I at least have a key to the room?” He agreed he would bring one up.
When he got to our room, his head was bowed and he said he was sorry for being rude: “I’ve had a bad day”. I was still appalled by his behaviour, telling him that I hadn’t expected that kind of welcome. His hackles immediately rose again, and he riposted “I’ve already apologised to you! I’m not going to do it again”. So I took the key from him and shut the door.
The following morning, Noel bumped into us as we emerged from the room, and enquired “Who slept on the floor then?” I told him we had shared the bed and he replied, “Oh, were you topping and tailing?” “No, but we did manage to contain ourselves”.