The continuing adventures of Mrs Blade... an ancient permanent resident
In the mid 70's I sent myself on a five day marketing course at the Inst. of Marketing in Cookham. It was great because it wasn't just about hotels and no-one else on the course had anything to do with them. It was also the time Fawlty Towers came out. As the course was residential, we were off in the evenings and one night we sat down to watch Basil and co.. My leg was pulled mercilessly. Was it really like that Mike? Well, yes actually, it was.
The episode we watched that night was the one about the dead body. I couldn't believe it. It was as if John Cleese had been there at my hotel and thought - I can use that.
Because some time before Fawlty Towers existed it really happened like this. Once again it involved my dear old friend Mrs Blade, the permanent resident, in that lovely hotel in Hove, actually.
One evening I came back on duty at 6pm and as usual walked round the ground floor just making sure everyone and everything was in place. In the lounge slumped in an armchair was one of our permanent residents. Fast asleep. I walked out of the lounge, through the hall to my office, and passed the porter's lodge. On the way, I remarked to Peter the Head Hall Porter that Dr so and so looked like he was having a good sleep.
Peter responded in his wonderful Welsh accent: “Oh he isn't asleep sir, 'ee's dead.”
“What, and you've just left him there?” What else could he do? We had to wait until there was only one body left before we could move it so as not to alarm the guests.
OK then. Stop in tracks, what's to do? People will be coming down for pre dinner drinks soon. We must get the body out of the lounge. Peter read my mind, a bit like Jeeves, he was already there. “Oh I've spoken to the relatives and the undertakers; they'll be here soon.” And they were.
The plan was to move the body into the basement ballroom until certain administrative procedures could be carried out. Then we'd sneak the body out through the front door when everyone was having dinner.
Later on it was time to move the body out. As we were in the lift with the body, the lift developed a mind of its own. Instead of going to the ground floor, we were unexpectedly taken to the third floor, where Mrs Blade in all her finery was waiting for the lift. The doors opened, Mrs Blade stepped forward to enter. I repelled her, gently, of course. I stepped out and the others quickly closed the lift to return to the basement where they removed the body. “Was that a body in the lift” she asked, her head gently nodding sideways as she spoke.
“No, of course not Mrs Blade, you must be imagining things; time for your Martini.”
A ding, there's the lift again, and, as the doors opened, I was able to show Mrs Blade that there was indeed no body. No body at all.
Mrs Blade, a little shaken and also possibly stirred, agreed it was high time she had a drink, and I led her to the lounge and made sure she got her drink pronto.
We returned to the cadaver in the basement. Meanwhile, Mrs Blade, by now having dinner, realised that she'd forgotten her hanky and decided to return to her room on the third floor. Yes, you know what happened. As we opened the doors of the lift on the ground floor with the body, there, once again, was Mrs Blade. I hurried out of the lift and tried to convince her once more that she must haven been seeing things, and deftly steered her back to her Martini.
No more mishaps occurred that night, but I did keep a careful eye on Mrs Blade who was probably convinced by then that it was I who was mad and not her.