Hi folks. The family and I took a trip down South for a few days last week for a well deserved break. There was a distinct lack of internet at the accommodation which meant there was no post. To be honest the unexpected lack of double U, double U, double U, dot was a wee blessing. No staring at tiny glass screens. Just relaxing and chatting and drinking too much. What else are you going to do in a wine region with no internet?
So back to where we left off.
If you haven’t read part one of this story (or you need a quick reminder) I urge you to read the last post. None of this will make sense otherwise. Cheers.
“What are you going to do?” Naomi asked.
“I’m going to milk this for everything it’s worth.” I replied.
It was the morning after our wedding and we were both still buzzing from the previous day. I left Naomi basking in the brilliant white bridal suite whilst I toddled off downstairs to talk to the hotel manager.
He was not on duty but I did find the day manager in the hotel restaurant busy with her morning duties.
“I take it you heard what happened last night.” I said.
I hadn’t met her before. Distracted with her tasks she paid little attention to what I had to say. She had no idea what had went down the previous night and when I told her she showed only mild irritation. I was looking for a little more impact. This response wouldn’t do at all.
“I find it more than disturbing that you have a fire door locked shut with no idea how to open it. What if guests were stuck in the corridor during a fire?”
Now I had her attention.
“I also had to introduce myself to your staff.” I said.
I followed that up with the fact I had ordered two drinks which Naomi and I never received.
She was a little twitchy now.
Before I go further do remember that I told my brand new wife that I was going to milk this situation. I didn’t so much as milk it as I decided to open up a dairy farm. And I did so by saying the following.
“Your staff made my wife cry on her wedding night. Your hotel ruined my wedding night.”
This of course was utter bollocks. Naomi and I had laughed about the whole splintered mess when we eventually made it to our room.
I could see she was seething.
“Why don’t you take a menu and order some complimentary room service?” She offered with a rather hopeful smile.
“My wife doesn’t want to be interrupted. She is crying down the phone to her mother right now.” (More bollocks. She was happily watching an episode of Friends when I left her).
“We are going out to meet family for lunch. I want this sorted.” I say as my departing shot.
That Saturday night was the Champions League final (hence the Friday wedding). Naomi and I had reserved a cellar bar for the remainder of our wedding party to enjoy the game. We had one more night in our hotel before we had to check out. Thankfully that night went without a hitch. Everyone got told the tale of The Beast And The Door That Never Was and we all had a great night. The hotel staff were even good enough to have a complimentary bottle of champagne waiting for us on our return.
On the Sunday morning as we went to check out the hotel manager pulled me to one side. He introduced himself. There was no doubt that he was the top dog.
I anticipated that he’d deduct the price of the bridal suite from the bill.
“So how much do I owe you?” I asked.
“There is no bill for you here Mr Liddell.”
I could have kissed him.
To say I was over the moon is a grotesque understatement. A small penguin waddled by me wearing a party hat whilst blowing hard on one of those party hooters.
All this for a broken door? But it got better.
“We have vouchers for a complimentary lunch for you and your wife here at the hotel. We would like you to experience the service you should expect to recieve from our hotel.”
“Thank you!” I say with a little too much pep in my voice.
He then throws in a meal for two at the hotel’s sister restaurant for the Sunday night.
I can hardly contain my smile.
I thank him and tell him that I feel he is making up for the whole shambles.
“Don’t turn around. Just keep walking.” I say to Naomi as we head down the front steps of the hotel. I’m afraid they’ll see the grins plastered over our faces.
So we have a bottle of champagne, two nights in a boutique hotel, a complimentary lunch and a complimentary meal for two booked for the following evening.
And that is where the story takes another unexpected turn.
And this post has went on long enough so that will have to wait until next week.
I do need to add something before I go. Remember how I said in the last post that I had Naomi’s favourite chocolates waiting for her on the hotel bed? Well, the chocolates had disappeared by the time we made it to our room. We think a staff member had stolen them. Seriously.
I thought about raising the point when we were checking out but decided against it. Its always better to quit whilst you are ahead.
To be continued…
For the purposes of this story the name of the hotel we stayed at on the fateful night of our wedding and its staff will stay anonymous. All you have to know is that the owners have since done the correct thing and sold up.
This story has been told before and it’ll be told again. It’s also pretty lengthy so I’ll have to split it over two posts and ramp up the drama a notch or two.
If you are a friend of ours and know the story then I apologise. You’ll just have to indulge me.
Naomi and I had our wedding in Edinburgh during May 2011. Our reception was held at a city centre venue and our boutique hotel was only a five minute taxi ride away. We had said our goodbyes to our guests and were utterly exhausted. Our reception finished up around 3am so it had been an incredibly long day.
We were really looking forward to our hotel. It had five rooms, each one was unique and I had reserved the bridal room for the night. I had Naomi’s favourite chocolates on the bed, champagne on ice and a stand alone clawfoot bath tub waiting for us. It also had a sky light. It was pretty special.
So we rocked up to our hotel still reeling from our day. We were loaded with bags of gifts and belly’s of booze. Naomi and I had danced our arses off and were ready to relax.
I checked us in (all proud at the Mr and Mrs Liddell part) and were given our key card. Our room was at the top of a three storey spiral staircase. At the top of the staircase there was a fire door.
You know the type. Solid wood, reinforced glass and lacquered with a thick white gloss that is entirely out of keeping with every piece of decorative design in the joint: a big formality door.
I push the door. It doesn’t open. Next to it, on the wall there is a key pad. I shrug, tell Naomi I’ll be back in a minute and go down to the reception to get the code. I leave Naomi in her wedding dress, with the gift bags at the top of the stairs on the tiny landing.
At the reception desk I ask the receptionist if he could open the door.
“I don’t have a key.” He said.
“You don’t need a key. Its a key pad.” I say.
He gives me a kind of look which is normally reserved for confused dogs.
We are in trouble.
The receptionist is new to the job. It’s only his second night. He’s nice and apologetic but otherwise utterly useless.
I start to get a bit twitchy.
“Well you better get someone who can open the door then.” My words are pointed.
Meanwhile, upstairs on the landing my brand new beautiful wife has been joined by two other hotel guests.
Well, only one was a guest. The other person was a girl the hotel guest had obviously pulled on a night out and the two of them were now eating each others faces. Three feet from Naomi.
Poor Naomi. Sat there in her dress, on her wedding night with two drunks tucking into each other right beside her.
Back downstairs there is now minor mayhem. I’m shouting at the receptionist and two night porters. All three of them stand staring at their feet. I feel like a headmaster chastising some school children.
“Oh by the way, my name is Gavin.” I say with spadefuls of sarcasm.
These lads hadn’t even done the basics of hospitality such as sitting me down and telling me not to worry, that they’ve “got this.”
Instead there was the embarrassingly awkward moment when the three of them shook my hand in turn.
“I’ll have a beer. My wife will have a champagne. You’ll know which one is her. She’s the girl at the top of the stair in the wedding dress.” I was pretty proud of that line. (I’m still waiting for those drinks by the way.)
So time passed, phone calls were made and three fellas sucked air through their teeth.
Naomi is now totally pissed off with the snogging couple. I’m going between her and the reception and notice that it’s now dawn.
Finally a girl in a suit appears on the scene. She looks more like management. She’s assertive and takes control.
I tell her that if the door is not open in five minutes she is personally booking us into the hotel across the road, which happens to be pretty pricey and the three muppets are carrying our bags. She tells me not to worry.
What happens next is bewildering. And I missed it. I was still downstairs.
The manager in the suit joins Naomi on the landing and asks Naomi to take a seat in the bar downstairs. Naomi refuses as she has all her bags to carry.
“You are going to break down the door, aren’t you?” Naomi said.
“If you could please make your way down to the bar, Mrs Liddell.”
“Whatever you are going to do you can do it with me right here.” Naomi said. She was not going to miss this for a moment.
Now, you know how in some old buildings the walls are covered in rich wooden panels? The type you might get in Hogwarts or that Ron Burgundy would have in his study. Well this hotel had those too. After a few moments one of these panels opens up and a bear of a man, wearing only his boxers appears on the landing like he’s escaped the shackles of his dungeon.
The Hulk gives the door one tester shove and with a second enormous shoulder barge the door breaks completely off its frame. Shards of wood everywhere and no more fire door. The man then disappears back through the hidden door to his lair without saying a single word.
To be continued…
This last week my morning routine has changed. I was getting up at five, shaking myself awake and after a splash of water on my face I’d start writing.
Most of the time it felt like I was grinding gears. Some mornings the writing wasn’t coming so easily. By the time I actually got into a flow it would be 6am and time to get ready for work. And to be perfectly honest I was finding it difficult to stick to the routine.
So last week I decided to change things up. I had listened to an interview on The Lively Show podcast with the writer and public speaker Hal Elrod. His book The Miracle Morning is centred around the practice of starting every day with a concerted effort .
But what had me really interested in Hal was his back story. We are of similar age, he was once a perfectly normal average guy yet reached great success twice before having it pulled away from under his feet. Oh, and he’s been dead before. He’s a force of positivity.
The next thing I wanted to focus on was my body. I’ve always been a skinny bastard. I’ve lost count how many times I’ve told Naomi that I’m going to work out and build myself up.
As a guy with limited free time I had to get creative. The Tim Ferriss book 4 Hour Body is just that. It rams a workout into ya in minimal time with staggering results. Tim is as close to the Terminator as we are likely to get. The guy is a machine. Let’s forget the Schwarzenegger look I may be conjuring up. Ferriss is a guy who has experimented by putting pints of his own blood through, what is essentially a laboratory whisk before having it pumped back into his body just to see what it feels like. He deliberately engineers his own body. He’s intense. So is Hal Elrod.
And that’s where I part ways with these guys for now.
I’ll take a little of Hal and a little Tim and build my own routine.
So far it’s me doing ten minutes of Tim’s sit ups and a few minutes of Hal’s visualisation technique and it’s working. Me sitting alone. In the dark. Like a big skinny thinking weirdo.
When its time to write the words come out far more easily. 40 pumped up minutes of writing are far more productive than 60 lethargic minutes.
In time I intend to up the routine to a proper work out and also take on a bit more of Hal’s strategies. If I could fit a morning walk in there somewhere it would be perfect.
Hang on, I’ll walk and think at the same time. Boom! Who says guys can’t do two things at the same time?
Hmmm, I wonder if thirty minutes of writing after a full workout, a 5am walk and a wee think will be even more productive…
Last week I wrote about failure so, if we’re going to yin this yang, we better take a look at success.
After thinking about my last post I realised how little the very idea of success was taught at school.
There would be goals reached in passing exams or getting the grade you were after but I honestly can’t remember any genuine discussions or lessons on success.
Or, more importantly how to succeed.
‘Pass this test and you will succeed’.
Zero strategies. Just compliance with the education system’s guidelines. (Don’t worry this isn’t going to span out into a rant about the state of our schooling).
But maybe the problem is a little more deeply rooted.
Maybe the problem is that in many cultures speaking openly about success doesn’t go down too well. It can seem like bragging or being “big headed”. It grates on people.
Self depreciation and knowing not to get above your station is so intrinsic I honestly believe there is an element of self sabotage running through the subconscious of many many folks.
I’m about to write about my own ideas of success yet I can almost hear a Scottish accent telling me to “wind my neck in.”
So here goes.
I want success.
Plain and simple.
A best selling book, a book tour, interviews, the validation of friends and family, money, filthy filthy money, to work from home… the list is endless.
Will I get all of this?
The magic 8 ball is telling me “Don’t give up the day job”.
Why? Because it’s a fact that the vast majority of all authors, even if they get published never give up their day jobs. There simply isn’t enough money in it.
But what if, by an incredible set of circumstances my dreams come true. What will I do?
It’s my same response as last week.
I’ll start writing my second book.
I don’t believe in one singular first memory.
My earliest memories are a series of constantly shifting images that pop up from time to time like a personal game of Guess Who?
I’ll reminisce and try to place the memory then wonder why the hell I’m remembering my mum smashing her shin on a pedalo during a family holiday in Majorca in 1984.
Then my memory shifts to an evening on the same holiday.
I’m wearing red shorts, a cable knitted button up cardigan and sandals. I’m four years old and holding hands with another four year old girl.
I think she is Welsh.
I remember the smell concocted between the hotdog I’m holding in the other hand and the balmy summer evening. I sit on a chesterfield style ottoman under a strong nightlight. It’s situated either in a hotel lobby or outside a darkened shop doorway. I’m not sure.
I also remember a lightning storm one evening that flooded the storm drains. The water poured down off of overhanging canopies and rose up over the kerb. I remember the mediterranean tiled pavements and a zebra crossing.
Why am I writing about memories?
Because of my son, Ethan.
He is only thirteen months old and collecting memories are still, paradoxically in his future.
But Naomi and I have said from the get go that we will sooner buy him experiences than material gifts.
Do I remember any toys I had when I was 4? Nope.
I remember the Daddy Longlegs in the hotel swimming pool and I definitely remember the tour bus that took us up a narrow pass on the side of a cliff face.
In our house we have this thing called Super Dad Sunday. Its when I take Ethan for the day and let Naomi get some much deserved space and work done. Every Sunday. My only day ‘off’.
We’ll play guitar together (he’s already sussed how to pluck the strings and thinks that I wrote The Beatles song Norwegian Wood). Sometimes we go to the beach or just the front garden.
This weekend, on Super Dad Sunday I’ll be using our zoo passes again to take Ethan along to see some more cool animals.
Sometimes I wonder what he’ll remember of Australia if we move back home.
Will it be as vivid as seeing his first kangaroo or will it be triggered by the smell of a warm summer evening?