So we needed somewhere to live.
When we set off the next day in search of a new hostel, armed only with a mapful of scribbles, there was something gnawing insistently at the back of my bonce; a half-remembered thought or an idea trying to burrow to the surface. A bit like when you think: Did I leave the gas on? Or did I remember to Sky Plus Top Gear?
Speaking of burrowing, Louise had woken to find herself bitten by bedbugs in the night; a fitting send-off, I think. Double Vs flicked up to Worldwide Backpackers then. And a raspberry. I don’t know how you type a raspberry. Probably: “plbbbbbbblpblbplbpbb”
First contender for our new home: Lodge In The City - a dusty, balsawood museum of boredom with rooms straight out of a 70’s porno - 1870s that is (“Good morning Ma’am, I have come to fix your traction engine”).
Next were YHA and Wellywood, neither of whom would allow a longer term stay, and so finally, on the basis that initial examination deemed it “adequate”, we settled on Rowena’s.
Over the course of the coming week, however, it became apparent that Rowena’s, too, was a nuthouse: There were huge bowls of fuzz hidden at the back of the fridge. There were ants in the kitchen. The TV room closed at 10.30 because a week previously a disagreement over the TV channel had resulted in someone being lamped.
The clientele were “unique” too, the most notable of which was “Star” the Samoan, who every night would sit at the piano (where did that come from?), turn on the radio, and start hammering enthusiastically away at random keys, as if playing along to the song.
It was clear, however, that Star had had little musical training and probably thought A Minor was someone who worked down a pit, B Major was the one in charge of the Bee Army and A Flat was what his Mum lived in
The result from the man who didn’t know one end of the piano from the other (and I suspect the difference between left and right), was a cacophonous jumble of mad, stomping, out –of-tune piano and the New Zealand Top 40. It was funny for the first 10 minutes. Then it wasn’t funny.
And then there’s Murray, the manager. Murray is a puckering sphincter of a man. A 65-year-old elephantine, hatchet-faced shitbag. A man so miserable and unhelpful he makes American Customs Officials look like The Red Cross. A man who views his guests like a boil on his cock. A man who reminds people their rent is due by accosting them with “You owe me money!”. A man who keeps the Sky remote behind reception and responds to guests requests to change the channel with “I’ve got better things to do than change the fucking channel”.
And the thing that had been knocking on the door of my brain, finally crawled in through the back window. I remembered, weeks ago and 500 miles away in the relative comfort of the Brown Kiwi, Bev had warned me that there were no decent hostels in Wellington. None.
And now I could see what she meant.