Gradually, and with a good deal of hesitancy, life slowly thinks about what it will be like when things return to normal – whatever that might be. It’s the first of August and we’re in Hope Street Hotel for the long awaited, thrice put off, wedding of the son of dear friends.
Liverpool is where he studied (LIPA – carefully nurtured by Paul McCartney), where he works (The Moon and Pea) and where he met his wife (for readers after 2:30 today). Urban life. Restaurants on every corner. People…yes people everywhere. We haven’t seen this many in over 18 months. We’re in that grey area (you mean your hair?…Ed) where we wear masks, but many don’t. Do they feel safer than we do? Are they ‘living dangerously’? Or don’t they care – probably the latter. We stare, as if that would make them feel ashamed and pull a grubby mask reluctantly out of their pockets. It doesn’t work so, like lots of old people, we grumble into our tea. Grumpy old grandpa, said the birthday card yesterday from one of our grandchildren. Humbug.
We’ve been to Hope Street a few times, but not in recent years. It’s worn pretty well with many of the original touches still in place – bedhead lights, confusing taps, beautifully detailed stair treads … and non-soft close toilet seats. Architectural purity that is. We’ve got toilets in our new house designed by David Chipperfield with seats but no lids! A step too far we think. Here we can’t get the shower to deliver cool water, only scalding hot. The plug’s in the bath and the water’s too hot to reach for the plug. Help! A man with strong hands arrives and explains carefully to the old fogies in room 112 how it all works.
Breakfast used to be taken in the restaurant – the London Carriage Works. Following a Big New Extension we’re accommodated elsewhere. Oh dear. Formica tables (well, imitation marble), bottles of HP and Tomato sauce on the tables and the slices of bread individually wrapped in plastic bags. Do you know, there’s a member of staff with big bags of sliced bread taking each slice out of the bag and putting it in an individual plastic bag, just so the guests can take it out again and pop it in the (inadequate) toaster. It’s not progress that’s for sure. A 4* hotel with 2* breakfast? The smoothies were good, similarly the pots of yogurt and fruit. Croissants? Soft cardboard. For one of Liverpool’s best hotels (all the bands stay there – Brian May recently) surely they can find a good baker? A full breakfast room and guests unwrapping each slice of bread to pop in the 4 slice toaster and hang around with/without* mask. Hopeless.
Still, Liverpool, despite losing the World Heritage Status [do they care?] it’s still where it’s at, man. The wedding a triumph. 12 hours of very carefully choreographed enjoyment in the Botanical Gardens. We don’t go to many these days – mostly funerals. Humbug.
Hotel Hope Street