Tuesday 16 April 2019

Air B n B

I used to be a fan of Air B n B but I’m rapidly going off the whole idea. I wasn’t too keen to begin with - Amy got into it and my first experience was in Pasarobles, California. It was before we discovered the ‘entire place’ option so it was a room in a lady’s house. We were obliged to interact. I got into conversation with the lady about the how difficult it can be to do all the things you want to do in life, something like that.
‘The trouble is’ I found myself saying, ‘that there’s never enough time.’
‘I don’t find that’ she said, ‘you see, I have all eternity.’
In the morning Amy got up early and blundered out onto a sun terrace where she found our host in full on communication with Our Heavenly Father.
I have no problem with people holding beliefs, I just don’t necessarily want to become involved in them.
My second Air B n B experience was a caravan in the grounds of a house in North Hollywood. It was cheap and it was wacky, just our sort of thing. We’d been playing in San Diego and had to be in Los Angeles early the following day, so we arrived at this place at five in the morning. Birds were trilling the dawn chorus and there was nobody around, just us and the garbage truck. It took ages to find The Gate In The Long Fence, and when we did it was almost impossible to open the lockbox and then to unlock the gate. We stumbled down some steps through a rockery with our luggage and there was the caravan - originally cream and orange, but faded and covered in an accumulation of moss and whatever debris had fallen onto it from the trees that surrounded it.
Inside it smelled of gas and microwaved pies. I opened a window and a dilapidated fly screen fell out. We tried to put a brave face on it - it was half past five in the morning by this time and we were exhausted. I pointed out to Amy, by way of being positive, that you could open the bathroom door and flush the toilet without leaving the bed. We were considering toughing it out for the sake of a few hours sleep but we found leeches in the sink so we booked into the downtown Best Western and stayed there for three nights. It cost a fortune but it was like paradise after the caravan.
I have had some good Air B n B experiences. Last June Amy and I stayed in a two storey shack in Mendocino. It was very small - the ground floor contained a sofa, a coffee table and a sink unit. Upstairs was a bedroom with a bed in it and not much else. The whole place wobbled as you climbed the stairs. The bathroom was in its own separate shack next door, connected by a short, secluded path illuminated by fairy lights. To get to the place you had to walk past the remains of a lot of scrapped and rusting cars and into some woodland. It should have been a disaster but it was quite wonderful.
We stayed in a converted breeze block garage in the back garden of a house in Nashville and that’s where I figured something out: in the good old days, before the Air B n B craze, short term rentals were traditionally filled with collections of mismatched furniture and knick-knacks - unwanted gifts, flower vases, decorative plates, hideous table lamps and so on. The modern way is to take all this crap and donate it to the Goodwill, get a tax receipt and spend the equivalent money furnishing the place with brand new crap from TK or TJ Maxx and Target, and that’s why the places where they’ve made A REAL EFFORT are full of overstuffed chairs that look like rotund aunties and aren’t comfortable to sit in, and oblong blocks that say COFFEE on each face. And why they invariably have a large number of decorative cushions on the bed varying in size from large to quite small, one of which will be heart-shaped. There might be a sign that says: Two Lovers Built This Nest, and in the kitchen there may well be another sign that says: Instant Human - Just  Add Coffee.
I find the concept of two lovers converting the garage into a nest by lining it with plasterboard, installing a Pergo floor and filling it with tacky crap from Target, Pier 21, Bed Bath & Beyond ridiculous, cloying and quite unbelievable.
Some Air B n B hosts get it right. We stayed in two different places on the south coast of England that were just great, and I stayed alone in another that had a wonderful sea view but was filled with furniture and had walls covered in inconsequential pictures - framed photos of not very interesting exhibitions from 1998 and 2011, that sort of thing. There were something in the region of five chests of drawers, there were window treatments, a foldaway bed, a million kitchen utensils, cabinets of trinketry, books that no one wants to read, shelves of CDs: The Best Of R.E.M., The Very Best Of Chris de Burgh, Graceland, There Goes Rhymin’ Simon... I couldn’t hear myself think for the encroachment of someone else’s life. I had to gaze out at the sea across the promenade in order to hold on to my fragile sanity.
I endured one in West Hollywood, a tiny Spanish bungalow from the 1930s, that had almost nothing in it except a bed, a chair and a large wall-mounted TV. It had a beautiful all-original kitchenette but the charm was lost to an over-large, and very loud refrigerator, a Keurig coffee maker and a bulky black microwave that filled the fold-out kitchen table so there was really nowhere for me to sit and write my novel. I spent my time in there spreadeagled across the bed trying to summon the will to get up and turn off the light.
I stayed in a charming duplex in Echo Park, Los Angeles, except that once I’d been there for a few hours I realized it wasn’t at all charming, it was indefinably grubby, with a spongy bit in the middle of the vinyl wood-finish Pergo floor where the underfloor had been joined between the floor joists and had given way.
My stay coincided with an unseasonably cold spell and the only heating came from a dusty oil-filled radiator and a ceramic wall-mounted heater with a big crack across the middle of it. This place had a separate kitchen, a ghetto beyond the bedroom with a one wall painted with blackboard paint and covered with tributes from former guests, who I can only imagine must have been drunk for the duration of their stay to have scrawled such sentimental gibberish with the chalks provided:
We had an AWESOME time! …We Love You! …your place is an oasis of peacefulness and beauty in an otherwise grey worldwe’ll be back for more wine and walks and good food and hugs… I even saw a tribute from someone I knew.
Everything in the kitchen was covered in a thin film of grease, embedded with dust. I didn’t want to imagine how much bacon had been fried up in that place. There was a shelf stacked up with the stuff that people had bought over the years to cook esoteric dishes and live temporary existences involving the imbibing of herbal teas. There was paprika, basmati rice, salt, pepper, curry powder, sachets of saffron, stale coffee, sweet and sour sauce, soy sauce, demerara sugar, ketchup, tabasco, plastic bear honey, organic tea bags… and everything on the shelf was stuck to it and the whole installation was greasy and very unappetising, but with a thin veneer of generosity. The stove was old and clunky, and superficially clean, and you had to keep checking that the pilot light was still lit.
The good thing about that place was that it had a piano. I worked up two songs for my new album while I was there: The Half Of It in its entirety and California/Handyman which I’d started to write by a dilapidated swimming pool at a motel near San Diego. You can pre-order the album as a download on Bandcamp and get The Half Of It and two other tracks to be going on with right now. I hope you’re going to love it.


  1. There is something reassuring about Wreckless Eric.Just when you feel like giving up on music he unleashes another gem of an album. A true craftsman and a spokesperson for misfits everywhere .

  2. Looking forward to the gig in Morwenstow. Hope you get good digs nearby Eric!

  3. While appearing in Morwenstow (Bude) Eric will have the finest digs the Bush Inn has to offer! Our bijou self-catering 'Hideaway' is still available if anyone wants to stay for a long weekend. See website for prices.

  4. I think he is an ordinary guy with an extraordinary take on life.

  5. Hilarious. Agree re. pointless blocks with ‘coffee’, ‘family’ ‘sleep’, etc. Reggie Perrin’s Grot shop was ahead of its time.

  6. Aargh.....staying in a place with 7 pointless signs ‘wine a little you’ll feel better’, ‘eat drink and be merry’, all you need is love and coffee’......... won’t bore you with the rest