Ian McMillan: Intrusion confusion is all in a name

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I was once in a hotel room fast asleep and dreaming of the biggest Yorkshire Pudding in the world when I was woken up by the sound of the door opening.

The dream, and the pudding, faded away and I lay there rigid as an ironing board. The room door creaked like a cross between a wheeze and an early attempt to play the viola. A man and a woman came in, both employees of the hotel; I could tell that by the way their name badges glinted in the moonlight that was ambling in through the cheap curtains. The man whispered “There’s nobody in here. We’ll be okay.”The woman whispered “Are you sure?” The man whispered “Yes…” They moved towards me. I gave it a few moments then said “Heyop!” in my best Barnsley accent. They ran from the room and slammed the door. I went back to sleep but couldn’t return to the dream.

The next day I saw the bloke. “You came into my room last night” I said. “Can I help you with anything, Sir?” he asked, his face going scarlet. I wandered off, leaving him to stew, hoping that I wasn’t his wife’s cousin.

I only mention this because me and my mate Luke did almost the same thing the other week. We’d been doing a show in a university town and they put us up in a student flat because the students weren’t back from their summer holidays. Let’s face it, they wouldn’t be back till Bonfire Night. Luke was about to open the door to his room when he said “I can hear voices inside”. We both leaned towards the door: yes, he was right. Mutterings and mumblings and the odd hoarse whisper. He knocked on the door. The muttering stopped. “Hello!” he said. There was no reply. He opened the door. Two elderly women were laid in bed with the blankets up to their necks. They looked terrified, as you would, mainly because Luke was carrying a piano accordion and wearing a trilby. It must have felt like a visit from the anti-style police.

Luke is a friendly chap and he smiled as he said “I think you’re in my room.” The women looked blank. One of them said, as though she was reading from a card, “We do not speak English”. Luke held up his key which said Flat 1 Room 2. The woman held up a key which said Flat 1 Room 2. I went to get the security man, a huge cheerful chap with a goatee beard and a very loud voice. “I’ll sort it!” he yelled. “They don’t speak English,” I said. He banged on the women’s door. “Security! Can I see your key?” he shouted. One of the women opened the door. “Hello love! Can I see your key?” he bellowed. “We do not speak English,” the woman said. The security man turned to me “They don’t speak English!” he said, shocked. He remained cheerful, though, and got Luke another room. He took Luke’s surname for security purposes (he was a security man, after all) and Luke’s surname is Carver Goss. And the women were both called Goss. “That explains it!” he screeched. “I’ll go and tell them! It’s all a mixup!”

We left him to it, pounding on the door to tell them they’d got the same name as a chap with an accordion and a trilby. Goodnight.