�'Definitely brightening up,' he decided, and dragged his dog off in search of new uprights.
With my backpack for a pillow, I lay down and drew my jacket tight around me.
It was a small hotel that was really a guesthouse, indeed was really a boardinghouse. What on earth was I going to do with myself in Dover for five days? As a matter of' �'Good, because we have a party of Scottish pensioners coming for the weekend and it would have been awkward. 'Oh, and do be so good, would you, as to remove your counterpane each night. I stood there, feeling lost and weary and far from home.
�I don't remember its name, but I well recall the proprietress, a formidable creature of late middle years called Mrs Smegma, who showed me to a room, then gave me a tour of the facilities and outlined the many complicated rules for residing there when breakfast was served, how to turn on the heater for the bath, which hours of the day I would have to vacate the premises and during which brief period a bath was permitted (these seemed, oddly, to coincide), how much notice I should give if I intended to receive a phone call or remain out after 10 p.m., how to flush the loo and use the loo brush, which materials were permitted in the bedroom wastebasket and which had to be carefully conveyed to the outside dustbin, where and how to wipe my feet at each point of entry, how to operate the threebar fire in my bedroom and when that would be permitted (essentially, during an Ice Age). Where I came from, you got a room in a motel, spent ten hours making a lavish and possibly irredeemable mess of it, and left early the next morning. �The minimum stay, 'Mrs Smegma went on,' is five nights at one pound a night, including full English breakfast.' �'Five nights? �Mrs Smegma arched an eyebrow.' Were you hoping to stay�longer? Actually, quite impossible.' She surveyed me critically, as she might a carpet stain, and considered if there was anything else she could do to make my life wretched. 'I'm going out shortly, so may I ask that you vacate your room within quarter of an hour? We've had some unfortunate occurrences with stains. I'd spent an hysterically uncomfortable night out of doors.
I used some woollen socks as�mittens and put a pak of flannel boxer shorts on my head as a kind of desperate headwarmer, then sank heavily back onto the bench and waited patiently for death's sweet kiss. �I was awakened again by an abrupt bellow of foghorn, which nearly knocked me from my narrow perch, and sat up feeling wretched but fractionally less cold.
The world was bathed in that milky predawn light that seems to come from nowhere. Beyond them, past the stone breakwater, a ferry, vast and well lit, slid regally out to sea.