BEing locked doesn’t have to be a complete brake – Chris Moss pauses in the master bedroom
The little pink kettle made it.
After repelling it for, oh, about 25 years, I decided to sort out my travel clobber. I have time now, after all. No excuses. COVID-19 ushered in a brave new world in which itchy journalists must stay at home. This week was like the start of a new year, so I had to start with some positive resolutions.
In various bags and drawers, I took out a miniature clock, lots of photo material, a 500-page thriller that helped me sleep on long-haul flights, foreign currency, a few small soaps, a pile of old Falkland Islands luggage tickets (souvenirs I would never do anything with), my noise canceling headphones and a miniature bottle of rum – one I had forgotten to empty for an unfathomable reason.
I also found three metal water bottles, old room service menus used for the exam, as well as a portable toothbrush and shoehorn. Who really needs a shoehorn when traveling, even on a business trip? I also found an unused bottle of hand sanitizer. Priceless right now.
Then the kettle – enough for two small cups of tea, with its power strip adapter.
I was about to put it all in the trash or in long-term storage – after all, the coronavirus made travel journalists temporarily redundant – when the idea came to me: I would like a kettle of travel in the room. I looked at the pile of clutter and around the room. There were other things that made me think of traveling with love, including my mother’s old Globetrotter suitcase – one of my favorite installations. I also have a nice globe and lots of maps on a library. I have dull, well-framed works of art.
It struck me: I could transform my house into a kind of holiday resort and the room into a hotel.
Is such a stupid idea? After all, the French aristocrat Xavier de Maistre wrote A trip to my room, an entire novel (a travesty travesty parody indeed) about being locked in a room. The 1825 suite was titled A Night Expedition Around My Room. Why give up on a good idea? The story by Argentinian author Julio Cortázar, “Instructions for climbing stairs,” does what is written on the box.
There are other good reasons to try to see the house as a place of pleasure and freedom. Travel writers and journalists are good enough for social isolation; we do it every month. I have had some of my best meals, in romantic restaurants, with only one gutter candle for the company. But we may not be so good at home – being in a domestic setting for weeks, months, washing the car on Sundays, making breakfast every day.
I’m locked out, but in this case the house has provided just about everything that a decent boutique hotel would contain. I like white bed linen, so it was obvious. I found that we already have more pillows than any room really needs. I threw a small cushion in a contrasting shade in the middle of them, and an ethnic throw added a touch of color further down the bed. I found two chocolates to put on the pillows (I would write myself a “ Welcome Mr Moss ” note later), a bowl of fresh fruit, a candle for the show (no matches provided) and a glossy magazine full of empty ads and articles. I hung around in a small desk, a standard lamp, a large mirror, tea bags, two cups, an ice bucket, random chairs and a tripod topped with an observation scope, which would represent the abstract sculpture without meaning required.
The bathroom – well, I’ve always wondered why houses have such small bathrooms and small tubs, but I wasn’t going to start doing serious DIY. I found three thick, fluffy, ecologically bad towels – the standard hotel offer for just one night – and put them on the radiator; we don’t have a towel warmer like most 5 star properties. I could always take one of the towels later and make a swan to decorate the bed. Branded soaps (notched) added a touch of authenticity. It would do the trick.
I thought about living rooms, the kitchen, spare toilets – I guess I could have aimed for a whole suite, but it seemed like a lot of work. Two rooms should be made.
Back in the master bedroom, I looked at the additions. It was almost there. All I needed to complete the picture was a six-foot-wide TV – and three remote controls that failed, repeatedly, to turn it on.
Then there was the other little problem of not living alone. Breakfast – my partner, Kathryn, advised – would not be delivered to the room, or ordered from a menu hanging on the door. A minibar? Well, they hum – and fall out of favor in the best small hotels. .
It turned out that the pink kettle was also a problem. We are missing the four or five unoccupied trays and the random surfaces that most hotel rooms seem to have. Placing it on the bedside table can be dangerous for electricity and hot water. Steam triggers smoke detectors.
Then there was the view. A dead end in Devon. One rainy day. The noise of a dog, the noise of a leaf blower. Deserted streets: Corona time, England, March 2020.
I opened the miniature and emptied it into the cup.