Hostel life

[Mild NSFW/TMI warnings]

I had to move hostel again. Of course the nice hostel was too good to last. They had a fourteen-day limit and I used up my two weeks there. So goodbye to the solid beds and the reliable wifi and the big clean bathrooms and the study facilities and the various comforts it offered and back to the world of everything in my life smelling vaguely of urine again.

I’ve found a cheap, but reasonable, hostel in Bayswater and have booked in for a week. The reception is staffed by an over-enthusiastic group of Australians who think hostels are “fun”. My room is the cheapest, and biggest, in the hostel. There are 24 beds in the room. It’s a big beautiful old ballroom or something, with two rows of bunkbeds just kind of plonked there. There are giant floor to ceiling windows without curtains, so it’s never really dark. There’s a massive chandelier and a big blocked-up fireplace. It reminds me a little of Brideshead Revisited when all the great old houses of the English gentry were taken over for the war effort and soldiers were billeted there.

There’s kind of a hostel-guest-in-chief in the room. He’s a Spanish guy with curly hair and an adult-fold-up-scooter and you just know that he can juggle. I gather he’s been staying there for months. When the hostel staff come into the room with a new guest, they ask him which bed is free. He tries to get to know everyone in the room and he has a funny little smile. He’s like the romantic hero’s best friend in an indie comedy. I don’t like him. A young, shy Asian woman came into the room the other day and he made it clear to her that whichever bed she took, he’d be sure to be moving to a bed near hers.

My bed was the only bottom bunk free in the room when I arrived. The mattress has two large bloodstains, so I guess it wasn’t surprising that no one else had taken it. I’m right next to the chandelier. It really is a very big chandelier and there was water leaking from it this morning. We told the staff, who came in with a bucket. The bathroom above us was leaking into our bedroom. I hope it was the shower, but I’m worn down enough by hostels to know it was probably the toilet. Some night, I’ll be asleep and I’ll be woken by a chandelier and a toilet crashing down on the floor next to me.

Hostel life is slowly driving me insane. I think I might kind of understand what having a new baby is like. I haven’t had a full night’s sleep in a month. Either someone will wake me for snoring, or someone else’s snoring will wake me. And people arrive at all hours of the day and night and it’s never fully dark and people’s phones ring and vibrate all night long. And Spanish people are incapable of having a quiet conversation. And it’s far too hot and people’s wet underwear is hanging everywhere mingling with the smell of 24 people’s dirty laundry and farts.

And don’t get me started on the state of the toilets. Or the kitchen where everything sticky. Or the wifi. It’s that kind of frustrating wifi where you can tell that you’ve received a message, but not good enough for you to actually see the message. And I miss surfaces. The room I’m in now has no chairs or tables or lockers or cupboards or any surface that isn’t the floor or a bed.

The lack of wifi and of surfaces and of sockets means that I can’t work in the hostel. And I have managed to get some very profitable online work that will dig me out of my current financial pit and mean that I will be able to afford a deposit and first month’s rent on an actual place to live by the end of February. I’ve been spending time in cafes. My online working style of going late into the night and binge-working isn’t serving me well when most cafes here close by 8:00 or 9:00. I have the keys to the school where I work, but I’m afraid that turning off the alarm on weekend evenings there will end up involving school management and/or security. My life is ridiculous.

I thought I might have relief from the hostel for one night on Friday night. I was chatting with a Middle Eastern man on Growlr. He wanted me to come to his hotel – the Intercontinental on Park Lane. I immediately googled the hotel. It was 5 stars and gorgeous. “Maybe he’d want me to stay there so he could do (non-time-consuming) sex things to me for two or three weeks,” I thought to myself, dreaming of expensive hotel breakfasts and jacuzzi-style bathtubs and housekeeping and comfortable hotel beds and having enough pillows. He might be a Sheik of some sort. He didn’t tell me his name, but he was clearly rich and he’d sent me a photo of his erect penis sticking out a what I think is called a thawb – the long white robes that Arabic men, including sheiks, wear. I was very excited at the thought. I have to admit, I was far more excited by the promise of the hotel than by the idea of him. But he was very insistent, almost aggressive, that I commit to anal at our first encounter and I couldn’t commit to that. You can’t be constantly prepared for that kind of whoopee if you share a bedroom with 23 other people. So I forewent my life in a 5-star hotel as the sex-slave of a fabulously rich sheik.

I do have a few more men on the go online. The weird Italian umbrella guy whose house I went to in my recent post is still very up for meeting again, as is a schoolteacher who listens to Radio 4, plays rugby and has a very grumpy-looking profile picture and wants me to service him after school some day next week. And there are two different men who contacted me in the last week and asked if I’d be willing to wear a leather pig mask. I understand people’s leather thing. Harnesses and leather trousers and all that is fine by me and I can see how it’s sexy. I can also see how a pig is sexy, after all Miss Piggy taught me everything I know about flirting, but covering your lover’s face with a pig-shaped leather mask is weird to me. But London Connor says yes, so you never know.

I should moderate that. London Connor says yes to most things. Not to everything. Men keep asking me if they have to use condoms on me. Why don’t men in London want to wear condoms? Any of them? Were they not terrified by the same AIDS storylines on TV in the 80s and 90s that I was? Also, there’s one guy who really wants me to take poppers with him, which does sound like fun, but someone with my blood pressure history definitely shouldn’t be taking poppers. Why do men make it so complicated? I just want a naked cuddle and a 5-star hotel. It’s really not that much to ask.

I might just “pause” the whole man thing until I have this research project done next Saturday. (That might be a total lie. I’m in the middle of a conversation with a man on Chasabl right now.)


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