Friday 26 April – Going to San Francisco wearing bedbugs in my hair

This week of observing amazing choral work in Northampton has had an underlying, more disturbing sequence of events. The last leg of my Fellowship journey is in San Francisco, a place I only know in legend and song. This week when not at sessions, I began to shape up the San Francisco time, recontacting people and making new connections. I idly looked up reviews of my digs.

Holiday places get reviewed in England but they are along the lines of:

 “view wasn’t great….breakfast a bit boring…dog hair on the sofa”

Hotel reviews have become a vicious, virulent art form in the US. A few from my temporary 10 day home (Travel Lodge) read as follows:

I have one word for this place – FLEE!…bedbugs…thin walls…the drug dealers and hookers only stop plying their trade at 4 am…bedbugs…cockroaches…they make black customers pay in cash…windows open from the outside…bedbugs…

The rating was 9 out of 60 and rated poor – fair. After a sleepless night during which  my head itched incontrollably, I cancelled my reservation and set about finding my new, fabulous digs….

yes…well…hm.   Do bedbugs in a 2011 review mean the hotel still has them? “A rough area of town” – well, I live in Camden, that’s not exactly the most gentile of areas. Define rough. How rough is rough?

I also quickly realize that there is a line above which lies bankruptcy and below which lies bedbugs and that some people are seriously on the make. I looked at one room in the morning. Three nights for $450 had jumped to $1000 by the evening by the time they had added tax, and cleaning (over 100 quid for cleaning for 3 nights? Please!)

An enterprising friend of mine asked if I had considered “sofa surfing”. Sofa surfing!!!! Am I a sofa surfer? Was I ever a sofa surfer? Possibly, but those days have long gone.

At the last minute a friend of my sisters has offered digs for a few nights while I sort myself out. She has even generously offered to drive me round to look at places. I will obviously bring a magnifying glass, rubber gloves and Lysol spray.


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