Crumbs From the Corner: Adventures in Woolgathering

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

High Society

"Elegance is innate. It has nothing to do with being well dressed."
-Diana Vreeland

Last year while I was back with my mother for a short spell, she was fortunate enough to win a competition at her workplace. The prize, joyfully, was a posh hotel stay for two people for two nights, something she was particularly unaccustomed to.
"Well done," I said to her. "When do we go, then?"
Fearing my wrath but I am sure also favouring my company, she brought me along to the hotel which was a three hour drive away and buried deep in the rural countryside.
The hotel, part of a renowned and world-famous chain, was newly erected in the wilds of Ireland. I believe they had opened their doors just a few weeks earlier.
Mater and I were ecstatic to be there. We could smell the new paint and polish. The receptionist spoke with a voice we were sure was only her working one, such was its elegance and crispness.
We were slightly intimidated, to say the least.
There is such a thing as 'old money,' which is apparently very popular as it indicates your heritage and breeding.
Next to that is 'new money,' which is somewhat frowned upon as it tells that you merely got lucky in your monetary gain and may not necessarily have come from a proper background.
We two were 'no money,' but, sailing in grandly on a free ticket, were determined not to show it.
My mother held her head high. She was very proud indeed to be able to stay in this five-star hotel.
We checked in without trouble. My mother was given a set of tickets with her name and room number that we should show when we wanted to dine.
Upstairs we went, after I foolishly declined any help with our luggage. I see now that I should have permitted the young man to help us, as it caused some confusion when I insisted that we could manage. As I said, we were not used to this lifestyle and hardly knew what to do.
The bed was at least seven feet wide and upon our entering the room found a television with my mother's name emblazoned on the screen, welcoming her. Very nice, indeed.
My mother took a bath before dinner and used all the bubble bath and scents they provided. It was heavenly.
We strolled down to dinner at about 7 pm with a walk that we hoped looked confident and non-plussed. Inside we were dazzled but it never does to show that, not among such people as we were dining with.
My mother greeted the head waiter and gave our room number. He made a little check mark in his book and was about to say 'this way, Madam' very finely when my mother remembered the dinner ticket. She reached into her handbag- her very best handbag, at that- and pulled out the tickets. In her most endearing voice she said, "and may I present these to you?"
The gentleman made to take them from her, but paused. He smiled. Something ghastly had happened.
"We do not take those here, Madam."
My mother, puzzled, glanced down at what was clutched in her shiny, polished and scented fingers.
She was grasping her supermarket coupons that verily shrilled in scarlet:
Oh, we did not know where to look. By all accounts, my mother finally retrieved the correct papers, and according to her we then slid along to our table; but that part for me is terribly hazy. I do remember giggling frantically throughout the entire six-course meal which was served on plates the size of bicycle wheels. Each course was about a mouthful worth of food.
It was a lovely couple of days, I must say.
Of course, in such a place we had to be a soupcon more refined than usual but we were glad in the end to return home and wave our supermarket coupons freely among people who understood us. Being yourself is so valuable, even if some will not like you much for your efforts.

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