Mirth and Woe: Edinburgh - City of Sin
A fair few years ago and in the line of duty, I was sent north of the border to attend a conference.
I was not alone, and went in the company of a chap called Dave, my going as padowan learner to his jedi master. I would watch, learn, grab all the freebies and become an ace at attending conferences in the world of retail rubber goods my own right.
Play this one right, and I'd be flying solo in no time - avoiding the mini-bar, keeping all my receipts and making sure I had a damn good excuse for any late night taxi fares.
The main conference hotel being fully booked (I believe it was a Hilton, or something particularly flashy), our generous employers put us up in a smaller, cheaper establishment on the other side of town. It was, it turned out, a concrete monstrosity with charming views over the railway station, but in the circumstances, beggars can't be choosers.
Finding themselves just outside the main tourist area of the city, and looking to rake in the punters as best they could, the hotel management hosted any number of events to fill the place. Luckily, Dave and I had secured rooms on the top floor, as the din from the bar down below was something to behold, and quite easily drowned out the trains arriving and departing from Waverley station.
If fact, we didn't mind so much - the hotel was merely somewhere to get some sleep at nights, what with the Hilton being closed to us, and we would get up of a morning, have breakfast and not see the place until the late evening.
Alas, on the Thursday, they held a Grab-a-Granny night. Actually, it was billed as an 'Over-40s Dance', but a Grab-a-Granny night it was, and the place was heaving with women of a certain age, their eyes crossed with sexual frustration, and blokes of all ages, their eyes also crossed with frustration of a sexual nature.
I blame myself entirely. I only went into the bar to get a G&T, and before the barman had even asked me my poison, I was beating them off with a stick.
"Och, you're a lovely young one."
"I bet you'd look even better out of that suit of yours"
"Oh, ignore her, she'll give you the clap. I've got all my own teeth, you know."
It was awful, and not unlike scenes from George Romero's Zombie movies. They were even hammering away in the car park, behind bushes, the works.
And I thought that Edinburgh was such a lovely, genteel city with loads of stuff going on to amuse the more mature visitor. The Castle, The Royal Mile. Bracing walks on the mountains. But no. They just want to screw. Screw anything that moves.
I fled to the sanctuary of the lift, where with luck, I could be in my own room in no time with the patent door wedge (an essential item when working in war zones, I'll have you know) holding the door firmly closed.
"Err…Yes. Fifth floor."
"I'd much rather be going down."
Oh. God. No. And she must have been all of seventy years old.
I've been in this situation before. In my youth, the car park lift at the supermarket where I held down a Saturday job stopped between floors, trapping me in the contraption with a lady of advancing years and wandering hands. On that occasion I had begged the Good Lord for deliverance, and He set me free. Tonight, it appeared he had other things on His mind.
She didn't even bother with the traditional - and I thought obligatory - "Oh, it's so hot in here!" before popping them out for inspection.
Before I knew it, I was face-to-face with a pair of pendulous bosooms, of the sort normally seen in documentary footage of remote Amazonian tribes.
"Fancy a bit?"
"Mwaaaaargh! I mean …no thanks. Mwaaaargh!"
"Suit yourself. Homo."
Charming. I swallowed the little bit of sick that had popped up into my mouth, and the doors of the lift swishing open, I fled to my room.
Next morning: "Christ Dave, you look rough."
"Yeah, I had a few to drink, guy."
"Cannae remember. I met this stunner in the lift though."
"Strange, when I came to, she was old enough to be me granny."
Last year, I returned to the same hotel for another conference, the Hilton being completely booked-up yet again.
'Thursday', said the sign in the bar, 'Over-40s Dance'.
Lift Lady would have been in her eighties by now.
I checked out on the Wednesday.