Up early. The cough lingers. My energy level is less than perfect. I am in a bad mood.
Have that scratchy feeling you get when you want everything done for you, that feeling of irritation when everything you have to do takes longer than it should. When knickers hurt, waistbands catch, shoes feel tight and you cant even be bothered to wash your hair.
That’s me. Even though its a Sunday I do not feel like a child full of Grace, I feel like a woman out of place. Get up at 6.00 and call Jim. He’s at home in the garden, new fences put up by the neighbours, he shows me on FaceTime, looks lovely. Wooden and inviting. At home with the dawter. At home. ah! The word Home. I know that within ten minutes of being there I’ll wish I were back in Yountville.
My phone has been playing up, so I assume the call is for 8.30. Well you know what assume did – it makes an ass of you and me.
Got down to the massive plush, dining room. Breakfast was only just being laid out. The tureens were being filled with sausages, onion gravy, scrambled eggs. Servers, like JCB diggers, emptied bacon and tomatoes, mushrooms and hash browns into the open metal mouths. Food to feed the five thousand. Fruit laid out in Vermeer type patterns. Bread, cereals, cheese and umpteen different types of milk. I was so grumpy all I could eat was a banana and yoghurt.
I waited, my two red bags packed. I sat in the gargantuan foyer and waited. Nobby no mates. Then I saw the sound man and the camera man saunter in. They sat at one of the big empty tables. I had got the wrong time, it did nothing for my mood.
I was ‘pissed’ as the Americans say. I left my red bags in the foyer and slumped down next to the crew and ordered a big breakfast. Caution to the wind.
Then a drive to the airport. I nodded off and folded my frustration into a little square and tucked it into my tightening waistband.
We arrived at a fancy hotel. Trendy and friendly. Delightfully hospitable. But my black mood had taken residence in my face. When we arrived the rooms hadn’t been made up due to a party the night before. I grimaced and drummed my fingers on the counter. My face looked like a smacked arse.
I had to change in the lavatory. Hot, sweaty, with more than a hint of Victor Meldrew. I could hear myself hissing, ‘I DONT BELIEVE THIS’ as I tried to zip up a pair of trousers that caught my skin and made me look like a flustered sailor from 1945.
I came out of the loo and schlepped my cases into reception.
I hummed and hahhed. The receptionist looked at me with that look that professionals give. She ignored my tight lipped grimace.
‘We’ve upgraded you to room 710’. she said sweetly.
I schlepped my two red cases to the lift.
Room 710 was huge, cool and perfect.
I literally threw my clothes onto the floor. Emptied out all my kit and dressed in clothes that worked for Portland. Checked the towels and lotions and there it hung. A bath robe, grey, jersey wool, like a boxers outfit, perfect gift for Jim.
Went downstairs and met everybody for some food. We were treated royally. I could feel my mood dissolve as we set off for more drive bys.
It’s that feeling you get when you come to the end of a holiday. You want the magic carpet to appear. The homeward trip done with a click of the fingers an eyes closed wish, and a transportation straight into your living room.
It doesn’t work like that, though does it? I always wanted to be a Disney cartoon character. Snow White with her flawless skin and bluebirds who cleaned the sink and tied your bows.
I was running on empty, but our fixer smoothed my furrowed brow and reminded me that most people would give an arm and a leg to do what I did.
There’s nothing worse than ingratitude.
I thought of Jeremy Clarkson and set off with Olly to drive through the streets of Portland.
We all ate together in a beer cellar that put the colour back into Olly’s cheeks. Eleven of us eating, drinking and being merry.
I was walked back to the hotel by two youngens. Up to room 710. I prepped my outfit for the last Monday of the tour, an outfit that would enable me to get in and out of cars easily and cover my bulging belly. A tall order, or in my case a small order.
Complimentary chocolates were laid out, complimentary popcorn, sweets, drinks. Complimentary notes. By the time I fell into bed I felt thoroughly ashamed of myself.
I gave my complimentary bottle of wine to the receptionist, the least I could do for my curt arrival.
‘You shouldn’t have’, she said politely.
‘But you dealt with me so calmly.’ I said.
‘We’re paid to be calm.’ she smiled.
That’s Portland for ya.