Donald MacInnes: If you're skint, here's a grand way of spending a penny

In The Red

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The Independent Online

As you read this, with your slippered feet resting insolently on the kitchen table and a lone Coco Pop clinging to your chin, I shall (the gods of motorway travel being on our side) be strapping on yards of tartan and preparing to attend a wedding in Glasgow's Grand Central Hotel.

Now, many of you will be familiar with your own local plush hotel; rightly proud of its sleek textures, obsequious bellhops and eclectic cocktail menu. But few places in the kingdom can compare with Glasgow's GCH, a Queen Anne-style behemoth completed in 1883.

Its opulence, of course, means it is magnificently expensive, but although my wife and I shall not be staying within its walls for this very reason, I have visited the place once or twice. Back when I was travelling around Scotland writing stories as a reporter for the Daily Whatever or the Illustrated Whatnot, if I was ever caught short while on the road, I would often dive into the hotel, stride through reception as if I really were someone quite important and make use of its second-floor bathrooms.

These were reached by a lugubriously wide spiral stairwell, which could have staged a Busby Berkeley musical without breaking a bead of sweat. The bathrooms were extraordinary: massive, enticing Taj Mahals of porcelain, always as clean as a nun's daydream and clad in acres of original floral tiles, colours vivid as Christmas, with (probably) golden taps and toilet paper as soft as the flapping wings of a passing angel.

Of course, over the years, there were a great many people who could well afford to actually stay in the hotel and these included such actual, proper celebrities as John F Kennedy, Winston Churchill, Laurel & Hardy, Frank Sinatra and even singing cowboy movie star Roy Rogers and his many-trick pony, Trigger.

Hotel legend has it that Trigger had a bigger suite than Mr Rogers, but then again, everything of Trigger's was probably bigger than Roy's. Aside from these starry guests, the hotel is probably best known for being the venue to which the world's first long-distance television pictures were transmitted on 24 May 1927 by the inventor of You've Been Framed, John Logie Baird.

Of course, with pretty much every innovation in modern usage having been invented by a Scot, this isn't particularly noteworthy. There's probably a shoe shop in Perth which, in 1871, witnessed the first use of sarcasm.

Anyway, a recent refurbishment has probably seen the security in reception beefed up since the days of my clandestine visits, but if you do get the chance to blag your way in for a luxury pee, please do so. Although it wasn't me that told you, okay?

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