I had rather a busy week last week. I had a meeting in Hampshire on the Thursday, followed by another meeting just over the county boundary in Wiltshire on the Friday. Rather than spend two and a half hours coming home on Thursday night, then the same again getting back down to that same neck of the woods again on Friday, I decided to stay overnight on Thursday. I went with a colleague to the first meeting, and he was happy to drive, so I got him to drop me off at a local hotel after the meeting on Thursday afternoon. The plan was that I’d get a taxi to my next meeting first thing on Friday morning, meet my colleagues there, and then cadge a lift back home to Malvern with one of them.
The most convenient (and from work’s point of view, most cost-effective i.e. cheapest) place to stay turned out to be a Georgian coaching inn in the village of Stockbridge. I’d never heard of Stockbridge before, but it’s clearly very famous in the fly-fishing world. It’s set on the River Test, apparently “one of the best chalk streams in the world”, and in season it must be heaving with fishermen. The high street (or rather, the only significant street, as it was a very small place) was full of fly-fishing shops, upmarket outdoor clothing stores, and tea-rooms. Even the fishmongers doubled up as a delicatessen and coffee-shop. It was very twee, and reminded me very much of some of the tourist-trap villages in the Cotswolds. Fortunately, it was well out of season, otherwise I don’t think I’d have been able to get a room at the hotel.
When I checked in on the Thursday afternoon, I asked the hotel receptionist to book me a taxi for the following morning to take me to my next meeting. I originally said for nine o’clock, but then thought that might be a bit tight so we agreed on 8:45. I was down in reception, all checked out and ready to go, at 08:40 as I find that taxi drivers usually turn up promptly and I didn’t want to pay any waiting time. But there was no sign of a taxi. By 8:50 I was getting twitchy, and at 08:55 I asked the receptionist (not the one I’d spoken to the previous day) to check that the taxi had in fact been booked. I pretty much stood over him as he phoned up the woman who’d been on the desk the previous day and asked her if she had in fact actually booked me a taxi, and if so with whom? It turned out to be with a local company that he didn’t use himself, so he then had to look up their number and call them.
It turned out that a taxi had indeed been ordered for me, but the driver for some reason had got it into his head that it was for 8:45pm not 8:45am! Quite why he thought anyone would want to go to an industrial estate in the middle of nowhere at that time of night escapes me! Fortunately he was pretty local to Stockbridge and didn’t have another job on, so he turned up within ten minutes and put his foot down on the journey. I finally got to my meeting just a few minutes after the people who’d come from Malvern, so that wasn’t too bad. It did put me in rather a foul mood though for the first part of the morning!