Brian Viner: 'Perhaps there is a society devoted to the abolition of plastic lapel badges'

Home And Away

Share
Related Topics

On Tuesday night I stayed at the Holiday Inn, King's Cross. My usual suite at The Dorchester was occupied, you see, and Claridge's simply isn't what it used to be. With a Holiday Inn, moreover, there's no faffing about, none of that business of arriving in your room wondering what to do because your case, which you could easily have carried upstairs yourself, is still downstairs with Jesus the bellhop. I say Jesus only because I had a pot of tea with my mother in the lounge of the Hilton Hotel, Paddington, yesterday, and the waiter who served us was called Jesus. When my mother then tried to attract the attention of a passing waitress, I said to her that we probably ought to wait for Jesus. I said this loudly, because the lounge was noisy, and my mum is 84 and rather hard of hearing. But the three men at the next table looked at us askance. I think they assumed that we belonged to of a visiting convention of charismatic Christians.

All of which brings me back to the Holiday Inn, King's Cross, because when I checked in I noticed that all the various function rooms were reserved for different groups. The Waterloo Room was taken by the National Fraud Authority, the Marylebone Room by the MS Society, Syndicate Room 1 by Baxter Healthcare, and the Farringdon Room by an organisation called Zero Carbon Hub. I love staying in hotels with message boards like that, and the mind boggles at the potential for honest mistakes and illicit liaisons, an MS Society delegate accidentally taking a seat at a National Fraud Authority meeting, for example, and wondering why the speaker should be so concerned with the watermark on a £50 note. Or a Baxter Healthcare executive sitting at the bar – with a sparkling mineral water, obviously – trying to chat up a lank-haired but attractive woman from the Zero Carbon Hub.

When you consider the number of big hotels in London, you can multiply this scene by hundreds. There were conventioneers with plastic lapel badges all over London on Tuesday night, and when you multiply that by all the big cities in the world, it's quite possible that there was a meeting in the Hyatt Regency, Baltimore, or perhaps the Sofitel, Frankfurt Airport, of a society devoted to the abolition of plastic lapel badges, such a terrible curse on the environment.

Whatever, I am reminded of an episode a few years ago in Los Angeles. I had been invited to attend the taping of the penultimate episode of Seinfeld, but it was a long way to go for just one feature story, albeit a good one, so I kept my reporter's nose in the air in the hope of sniffing out something else. And in the Roosevelt Hotel on Hollywood Boulevard, I found it. The annual convention of the League of American Morticians, complete with a state-of-the-art hearse parked in the lobby, being admired by a gaggle of lugubrious-looking men in black suits. I struck up conversation with one of them, only to find to my great disappointment that he was an actor, and that I had unwittingly ambled onto the set of a feature-length episode of Columbo.

Improbable-sounding societies have long offered fodder to television dramatists. There's an episode of The West Wing set on the one day of the year on which the Bartlet White House opened its doors to lobbyists who wouldn't otherwise expect to gain the ear of the president. One earnest trio represented a group called Cartographers For Social Justice, a notion which had obviously tickled the writer, and yet however daft you can make a fictional organisation, an even dafter one will exist in real life. The Royal Oak Hotel in our local town of Leominster, for instance, annually plays host to a gathering of the Test Card Circle, a group of like-minded enthusiasts who celebrate great test card transmissions of our time, and can tell you – should you want to listen, as some years back I unequivocally if bemusedly did – about the celebrated occasion when the BBC1 test card was mistakenly played on BBC2.

So even out here in north Herefordshire we have our conventioneers, in fact if I might do a little lobbying myself, the National Fraud Authority should be aware that the Royal Oak's function-room rates are a fraction of what they pay the Holiday Inn, King's Cross. But name and address on the back of the cheque, please.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

Day In a Page

Read Next
The Public Accounts Committee found widespread concern among civil servants that they would be victimised if they spoke out about wrongdoing  

Nikileaks explained: The sad thing about the Nicola Sturgeon saga is that it makes leaks less likely

Jane Merrick
New SNP MP Mhairi Black distinguished herself in Westminster straight away when she made herself a chip butty in the canteen  

The SNP adventure arrives in Westminister - but how long before these new MPs go native?

Katy Guest
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine
Letterman's final Late Show: Laughter, but no tears, as David takes his bow after 33 years

Laughter, but no tears, as Letterman takes his bow after 33 years

Veteran talkshow host steps down to plaudits from four presidents
Ivor Novello Awards 2015: Hozier wins with anti-Catholic song 'Take Me To Church' as John Whittingdale leads praise for Black Sabbath

Hozier's 'blasphemous' song takes Novello award

Singer joins Ed Sheeran and Clean Bandit in celebration of the best in British and Irish music
Tequila gold rush: The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product

Join the tequila gold rush

The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product
12 best statement wallpapers

12 best statement wallpapers

Make an impact and transform a room with a conversation-starting pattern
Paul Scholes column: Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?

Paul Scholes column

Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?