In the good ol' days when I lived in Kent, we often made trips across the channel to stock up on wine, cigarettes and beer. Women and whisky were an optional extra but good food essential. One day in June, my then girlfriend and I decided to treat my aunt to a day trip to Dieppe (which she kindly paid for).
We were enjoying the day when, on the way back down to the port in good time for our return journey, I noticed a ferry out at sea and said jokingly " hey, that looks like our ferry leaving without us" . We checked our watches and decided it could not be as we had plenty of time to spare. You can guess that it really was our ferry leaving early for some operational reason and without telling the passengers. The next one wasn't until 2am so we decided to find a hotel and stay the night. Great, no problem to us at all and P & O were at fault and would surely compensate us (which they did).
The trouble was that there wasn't a single room to be had because the town was full of Canadians there to remember a WW2 disaster when a company were wiped out in an assault which went wrong. Eventually, someone sent us to a district near the docks where no tourist goes. Sure enough, we found a hotel and restaurant there with 2 free rooms and they cooked a nice steak meal for us at 10pm.
Auntie had kicked up a fuss because her room had no lock on the door and a porthole window onto the hall. There was also a mattress on the stairs which made them tricky to climb. Anyway, we convinced her that it was better than nothing and so we stayed.
We were hurried a bit to finish our meal and go to our rooms just after 11 and the waiter switched out the lights, locked the restaurant and disappeared upstairs before us. He tried to explain something to me about midnight but I didn't understand him. We were on the 2nd floor and auntie on the third.
The best or worst bit depending on your sense of humour, is that all the lights were on a time switch and cut out at midnight. I found that out when I tried to get to the toilet on a landing. Eventually I found my way into it and discovered that there no light in it either. It was pitch black in there and I couldn't find the door handle to get out. I had to calm down and search methodically for it for what seemed like ages. Anyway, when I did get out, there was a lovely young woman in a night dress trying to find her way to it with a cigarette lighter. She said she was scared and asked me to wait to see her back to her room. Strange how my French improved enough to understand her. Drinking Calvados does a similar thing according to George East who found he could talk with this villager that no one understood after they shared a bottle together.
I was torn between going back to my girlfriend who had been asleep when I last saw her ages before or waiting to escort this girl back to her room. Being a gentleman, the latter had to take precedence and so I duly ended up at her room and she, being grateful and still scared, invited me to stay a while. Ahh no, I don't kiss and tell. You will have to imagine the rest.
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