29th March


Sometimes he felt he could live permanently in a hotel, like someone in a 1950s American movie: a detective, or a man the police might be looking for. Something about the idea of living like that appealed to him, something about coming and going at odd times of the day or night, eating in diners or drinking alone in dingy bars where other men also drank alone. The hotel room would be clean but simple, sparsely furnished, with a hard bed and a closet where his suits and shirts would hang. The hotel lobby and reception would be seedier, a little tired and faded, and the proprietor, a woman in her fifties, would be tired and faded too, a woman who had seen better days, and who was sustained by memories from those days. She and he would understand each other, she would know he always paid his rent and he on the other hand could tell her things she’d keep to herself, but then again there was a line they would both know not to cross. The hotel wouldn’t offer much comfort, it was in the wrong part of the wrong town for that, but it would provide a man like him with what he needed, a place he couldn’t call his own.

Whenever he stayed in a hotel in a big city, or just in a town he didn’t know well, his imagination would run along these lines. People hardly noticed him, he had a boring job in a boring business, but this meant he had to go away sometimes, and he could make something of that. He and his wife didn’t have much left to say to each other, so it was hardly surprising that when he was away he fantasised. He chatted up the receptionist without intending or expecting anything to come of it, and nothing did; he walked the familiar, unfamiliar streets, he stopped in a dull little bar for a whisky and felt conspiratorial. It was as if he were waiting for somebody, as if he were caught up in something mysterious and potentially dangerous, the kind of thing that was never, in his life, actually going to happen.

Reader: Kirstin McLean
Fiddle: Aidan O'Rourke
Harmonium: Kit Downes
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