I'm feeling proud. Tomorrow I will run my first 10km race against 15,000 athletes at London's Olympic Park.
That's not why I'm proud though. My puffed out chest has more to do with my immature, internal giggling at the fact I am heading towards my hotel with two young women and we are sharing one room.
My mind is imagining all the silly things I can say to the receptionist upon our arrival. 'Yes Madam, I'm here for your 2 for 1 offer'. I smile as we pass yet another quality looking establishment.
Sarah and Jennifer seem less excited about this prospect and more intent of getting out of the balmy, summer heat and into a room for some much needed sleep. 'Not far now' I say cheerily. I sense that they've heard this once too often now to take it too seriously.
Finally we stumble across our lodgings for the night. At first view it looks like an old Victorian building in need of a bit of love and attention. I ignore the dilapidated windows and jauntily step inside a gloomy corridor.
Now is my opportunity. I will make witty comments that will make the receptionist smile. I will appear the epitome of an English gentleman making gaiety for the amusement of all around him.
A disheveled man in his forties looks up from a chair where he is watching football on a small portable telly and across from him is a small cubicle protected by what appears to be bullet proof glass. It has the tiny holes allowing for brief conversation, the type you usually find in a bank.
'Are you booked in?' asks a man from behind the glass panel. He doesn't appear to be wearing any kind of badge or uniform as I'd hoped, and his manner leads me to think he won't find my 'three for a bed' comments witty in the least.
His appearance is one of a pimp, or at least how I imagine pimps to look not having actually met one. He has a nylon short-sleeve shirt that is a couple of sizes too big hung over cream slacks. His hair jet black and slicked back over his head with jewellery, of which I assume are fine gems, adorning his chest, wrist and fingers.
'I have a family room booked in the name of Watson' I less confidently state under my breath. I turn to look at Jennifer and Sarah who both look more nervous than me and are currently under the watchful gaze of our new dishevelled friend.
'Sign on the bottom here, you can leave all that other stuff' my pimp informs me. That 'other stuff' being the information that most hotels think of considerable importance. Maybe this is the new relaxed policy of a new care-free London, but I don't think so. I sign with a squiggle that I hope resembles nothing like my true signature. As I'm doing so I notice the room rates being advertised. We are paying £75 for the joy of a family room, yet it would appear for just £35 we could have a 'daytime only rate'. Maybe there are a lot of people needing a nap in the day I think to myself. Even so, it's quite an expensive nap.
I realise now that I'm the one suddenly looking like a 'pimp' with Sarah and Jennifer my young 'ho's'. This is not good. Neither of them look like a 'ho' but I can already sense them trying to cover up any element of bare skin.
'Follow me' says our chief pimp. We follow clutching our bags close to our chests and looking at each other for silent reassurance. We go up a couple of flights of stairs and are then lead to a small room containing a double and single bed. The heat of the room is several degrees higher than outside and the smell is that of musty sweat.
We lock the door behind us and stare at each other in amused shock. This was not how I imagined it. I was hoping to act like a naughty child who was doing something slightly cheeky, but now I am being viewed as a man that rents out ladies by the hour.
Sarah and Jennifer begin to relax a little and make fun of my new found status. They also start to wind me up as I try and respond to a few Twitter followers who are wishing me well for tomorrow. My mood was meant to be one of frivolity and giddiness, instead it's turned tetchy and tired.
'We're all just a little too hot!' I say exasperated. 'Everyone is just a bit too hot' I repeat just in case the girls aren't sensing my mood. They laugh. They laugh and continue to tease. I wonder how many pimps would let this happen? Not only am I pimp but I'm now a failing pimp who has lost control of his 'ho's'
Grumpily I throw myself on the bed and start to try and get some sleep and as Jennifer cleans her teeth in what appears to be an airing cupboard, there is a knock at the door. Sarah looks at me as if to question the right approach to take in this situation. As the man in the room I realise I must take charge. I must answer.
I pull open the door to find a rather confused foreign gentleman in his twenties clutching a small bag. ‘Is this the right place?’ he mumbles as his eyes dart about through the crevice of the door into our dim lit room. ‘I don’t think so’ I respond less sure of myself than I should be at this point. My own confusion has the desired affect and he leaves but I am left wondering what people think we are offering in this ‘family’ room of ours.
The next hour is spent listening to an argument, the sound of a wardrobe being dragged across a room and various creaks and groans as we all try to sleep. My three in a room joy has become a nightmare and I can’t wait for morning to arise. I realise I am not cut out for a life with more than one female in a room at any one time, and I certainly won’t make a good pimp.
In the morning the heat isn’t any less bearable to we just pick up our things and quickly head down the stairs to the exit. No-one seems to be about, just a lady on the steps outside having a cigarette who looks at us wearily as we leave. She doesn’t thank us for our custom and we don’t look back as we hurry down the road.
I’m sure Olympians don’t prepare like this, and I’m sure rooms are booked with much more care. Maybe I should have paid more attention to trip advisor. As one customer put it ‘I have been to many hotels in Europe. I have seen much. But this is much worse than the cheapest hotels In Romania shortly after the Ceaușescu era’. High praise indeed.
If your ever heading into London and want a cheap place to stay, go anywhere, go sleep rough, just don’t stay at the Travel Inn, Stratford. Not unless you’re a pimp in need of a daytime rate.