Monday, 25 April 2016

Greatness, Andy Warhol, Andy Murray et al and my Mother.

Apart from the apogee of my well documented  rugby and footballing playing days my achievements in life have struggled to reach even a modest level. 

I may have missed out on greatness for myself, but I have taken substantial consolation  -  if in not quite touching shoulders with 'the greats' -  being in places associated with or visited by some of the great heroes. This is particularly true of hotels where I have taken a room. 

Last year I stayed at the Walcott Hotel in Manhattan in order to attend a family wedding in Central Park. Almost 60 years before I rested my head on a pillow at The Walcott, it offered lodging to Buddy Holly and the Everly Brothers when they were recording at the nearby Beltones studios. A little earlier in 1904, the hotel was the New York residence of Mark Twain. 

I have not always so widely missed the target of being in the same hotel at the same time as one of the colossi of our culture. Some years ago when I stayed at the Puente Romano Hotel in Marbella the concierge informed me I had missed Sean Connery by only a week and that Prince Charles was due the following week. ( I accept I may not have universal support for counting our future king as a cultural icon).  

Apart from an event I will describe later, the closest I ever came to being in engaged company with one of my heroes while in the same location, was when I saw Vaclav Havel in El Quijote, a Spanish restaurant in Manhattan then used by the guests at the Hotel Chelsea next door. The Hotel Chelsea where for about a week I was once in residence had at one time or another been the resting pad for Arthur Miller, Dylan Thomas, Bob Dylan, Shirley Clarke, Andy Warhol, Willem de Kooning, Patti Smith, Brendan Behan, Jasper Johns and many more cultural titans. I should not forget in this Chelsea list the tragic Nancy Spungen and Sid Vicious.  

I am relating these arguably non-events at hotels because -  as part of my recent 70th birthday celebrations (?!) -  my children generously provided us with a night's stay including dinner and breakfast at Cromlix House, a country hotel near Dunblane. The hotel is owned by Andy Murray. The rural setting of the hotel was magnificent and though the hotel was full, the atmosphere was so relaxed and peaceful we decided to stay for an additional night.  

To be sure that we shared the ether with greatness, on our first evening we slept in the Sean Connery Room and on the second evening we slept in the Arthur Conan Doyle Room. The major disappointment of our stay for me was that Andy did not personally wait upon us at the dinner or breakfast table. Furthermore despite there being two superb tennis courts in the hotel grounds, he couldn't find time to work out with me over a couple of sets. He seems to have been too busy enjoying parenthood  as well as playing in a tournament in Miami.

Even so I don't think I'd be telling you all this if I hadn't noticed this morning in the pages of The Scotsman (a newspaper I  infrequently read) that the Cromlix House Hotel had been voted "The Most Luxurious Hotel" in Scotland. Further on in the article I read that Balbirnie House Hotel in Markinch, Fife had been voted both Wedding Hotel of the Year and also the Scottish Hotel of the Year. This is noteworthy because it was there in 1994 my sisters, my brother in law, my wife and I enjoyed a family lunch with my mother to celebrate her 70th birthday. This was an occasion upon which I truly shared with one of 'the greats'.

For all kinds of reasons my mother is a legend. More of that another time.

Post a Comment