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Hotel Babylon Blues
by Bernie Bostik
Now before I steam in with a right old Swine slagging, can I first tell you that I like this programme and for me part of the enjoyment is my ability (or inability - if you think this is a load of twaddle) in ripping it to bits. Having worked in a London hotel myself, I think that gives me the authority to cast a shadow on some of it's various stories it tells each week. Some of them are not far from the truth. As in tonight's episode - with one Bellboy going on one and freaking out, to the other Bellboy getting seduced in the lift..arf..arf... arf.
The porters and Head concierge (Dexter Fletcher) portray a concierge desk pretty much spot on. Although Fletch plays it with a bit to much smugness for my liking. They can get you girls/thearte tickets/limo's/seat's at the best restaurants and all that shit, but at a cost, like any other normal concierge. It's done with all the glitz and glamour for TV purposes, but if you look through all that bullshit, it sort of rings true. In the last Series Dexter had a secret stash for his cash in a false panel in the walls, along one of the hotel corridors. Now my Head Concierge wouldn't be so blasť to have one in such a stupid position , or even in the hotel at all. He told us one time, years ago he hid his cash behind the bath at home. He was raking in so many pennies in them days (70&80's). He forgot about the stash (£7000) and was only highlighted to it again, when he got the Bathroom suite changed 10 years later.
But's it's the rest of the characters that are in for a bollockin'. Outhwaite - Manager, Beastly - her assistant, the rezzy manager - who I am still trying to work out if it's the shame fella off Gimme Gimme and, was it, the Thin Blue Line? , the Spanish Manuel - Bar-manager and the sexy housekeeper. Every single episode, they waltz around the lobby getting involved in other people's problems and never seem to do any work. Lets not mention dumb & dumber from reception who never seem to spend time behind the reception desk. They all, are for ever getting in little gossip groups to find out the latest tittle-tattle. I recall all the head of department at my gaff were a right pain in the Goerballs ....well most of them anyway.
Housekeeper - if she went past and seen you stood round, she would give you some brasso and set you to work on the brass hotel sign outside.
Head of Banqueting - if he went past and seen you stood round, he would round you up and force you to help him setting up some conference in one of the suites
Manager - if he seen you stood round, his token gesture of handing you a dirty ash tray, would wake you from your slumber.
Asst Manager - if he seen you stood round, he would come over for a quick rant about football - he was a mad spurs fan.
Arnie Ashmore - Head Personel, If he went past and seen you stood round, he would kick you up the arse, pinch and embo filter out yer top pocket and send you off to the bookies with his day's selections. he was a top, top man. He got me off a drink drive charge one crimbo. It was the day of the staff xmas dinner, a token gesture by the management by serving all the peasants (porters/maids/kitchen staff) their tucker and making sure everyone's glass was always full. I would of preferred the £6.99 extra in my wage packet,(which is what it must of cost per head). Well I got wasted, but not as wasted as the others and I was deemed ok to park one of the guest's cars. I went into the back of some woman, when I staggered out the car , she stormed off to the hotel with threats of calling the old bill. Well bill turned up and Arnie weaved his magic. When Bill come to talk to me, I'd already had the nod and wink of Arnie. So I knew I was only getting a bollockin'.
"so the Manager has informed me that he gave you a couple of stiff drinks after your accident to calm your nerves, is that correct"........errr....yeah...."so in that case sir we are unable to take a breath test......but just let me warn you.....blah blah blah blah" once I heard the words 'warn you', I turned off.
Nice one Arnie, he later told me he basically told them I was a good egg and this would mean me loosing my job, it was their fault I was drunk, staff crimbo dinner etc... With it being the season of good will they let me off. Arnie unfortunately had the sack a few months later, when a new head of accounts came in and starting poking his nose around. They found out Arnie had a load of ghost workers on the pay roll and was living quite a comfortable life style on the proceeds of the make believe staff's wages.
Back to the Babylon bollockin'. Take tonight's episode as an example for my character assassination. You find all the heads of departments and manager in a cupboard playing poker. Cat shit, these weren't the type of people involved in the card schools going on in hotels. Not from my experience anyway. I know your going to say, well it's TV and there the main characters, so they have to be involved in it. But surely the better story would be to show the proper people who would've been partaking in a bit of hotel jiggery pokery . Take my mate Sausage Finger's for example. He worked as a Doorman at the Grovenour whose luggage room had a reputation of being a hotbed for skulduggery. He would constantly come home pissed complaining about being robbed by those 'Portuguese gypo cunts' The Portuguese in question were the Luggage porters at the hotel who played cards 24hrs a day. Their Luggage room had a fridge full of wine, TV and card table. Some Yankee guest's would make a visit and stay for a few hands - hundreds of pounds changed hands everyday. There was fight's over non payments of bets and such like, mostly to do with sausage.
I suppose for realism like that, I'm better off watching one of those Docu-soaps based on a Hotel. The "just cook will ya" Adelphi* one springs to mind and if I remember on that one, the porter was a right lazy fucker who couldn't get out of bed. So I'm afraid I am stuck with Babs until someone comes up with something better.
I won't touch on the actors performances as they could replace them with 5 other actors out of heat magazine and I would still watch.
*I found it on BBC4 two nights after Babylon whilst having a flick . It's been shown as part of 1997 week, it was the first one when the bomb scare happened at Aintree and the hotel was full of pissed up Willie Carson's on the pull and the Countryside Alliance bartering with the iron faced receptionist over the price for a mattress in a conference room.. Episode 2 Mon12th 9pm.
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