Adventures in a Barra Bathroom

I was meant to be leaving on the Saturday, but it became clear that there was no ferry on a saturday, so I had to stay another night.

on the saturday, I went cycling. When I got back to the hotel, I was desperately needing a bath. the maid had been in, and the bathroom door was shut, which was unusual. well actually both parts of that sentence were unusual. i tried the bathroom door and it wouldn't open. I stared at it a bit, and wondered if I had forgotten something about opening doors, but it was definitely locked... from the inside.

I checked there wasn't an emaciated chambermaid trapped within, and went down to reception. they sent me back to my room with martin the polish handyman in tow. he went through a similar process to me, and then we returned to reception where he confirmed my story. "well it'll have to be opened martin. break it down if you have to!"

so we went back and tried various forms of brute force. eventually martin settled on a plan i couldn't quite fathom but it involved a hacksaw blade and a lot of elbow grease.

while he spent the next hour sawing, we bonded.

"where you live?"
"paisley, near Glasgow"
"I'm from Poland"
"Yeah, I guessed"
"You guest in Poland? Where you go?"
"No I didn't go, but my mum has been to Katowice"
"Ah you went to... far south Poland"

and so it continued...

eventually, Martin came to my rescue and sawed through the handle and performed some slight of hand, and the door opened.

I had a bath with the door open, just in case, and all seemed well.

the next morning, I had to get obscenely early, walk a couple of miles to the ferry pushing my bike and dragging my suitcase. so i got up and went to the bathroom. Instinctively, I closed the door behind me. A couple of seconds a heard a wee click, and realised I had made a dreadful mistake. painstaking investigations revealed that the door had indeed locked itself, except this time there was no handle, and no obvious way to unlock it.

I could see there was a little square hole in the bit of the mechanism that was left, and that if I could turn it, it would unlock the door. i couldn't do it with my finger, and I tried to fashion a number of rudimentary tools. part of my razor; part of my toothbrush; a tray I smashed into shards. nothing would work. so I was reduced to shouting, like a cross between Penelope Pitstop and a wookie. "HEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEELP!". still no-one came. eventually, I shouted DOWN the bath, and someone downstairs heard me. (I had been "upgraded" to a bizarrely african-themed room upstairs, and I think I might have been the only person up there). A woman shouted back "He.... llo?".
"Hello! I'm stuck in my bathroom!".
"are you in room 107?".
"No, I'm upstairs in in 207. Could you let the hotel owners know please?"

and she did. so, soon martin was back peering through the hole in the door at an overly enthusiastic scottish man in his underwear. he had to fit a new doorhandle in order to get me out. by which time i was very late for walking to the ferry.

so the woman who owned the hotel, who was quite perturbed at my ordeal said "You just cycle down, I'll give your case to that young couple that are leaving today, and they'll give you it on the ferry. do you know who i'm talking about?". I thought I did. "the woman has blonde hair, the man looks... a bit younger?". "that's no way to get them to take your case! You must know Holly?" I said I didn't, but I set off anyway.

I got to the ferry in plenty of time, and waited for the couple I had spoken to at breakfast the day before. eventually, they pulled up in the ferry queue in a wee green car. I found this odd, as I had realised they weren't leaving till the next day, but I waved to them, enthusiastically. they waved back... and then sped off. I thought, they must have moved to the correct place in the queue, so I went off to look for them, but they had disappeared completely. as I searched feverishly, the calmac [ferry] guy came up to me and said (alas you will miss out on my island accent here) "can you move your bike on board now sir?". and I said "I'm still waiting for my luggage". "I'll leave you to the end then".

the cars continued to roll on, and no-one appeared with my case. eventually, I decided I was getting on the ferry regardless, and made my way down behind the last car. another ferry guy said to me, "are you missing a case by any chance". "aye, the coach-driver's got it. on ye come."

it turned it out it had been an entirely different couple with a baby called Holly, who had been entrusted with my case, but they hadn't had room for it, so they had given it to a passing bus driver. this seems to be the way of things in remote parts.

so me and my bike and my case were reunited and made it safely to oban. where things all turned to shit again, but that's another story.

Martin at work

Martin Redfern's Response

A response from my Canadian friend Martin. Not be confused with my Polish friend Martin, discussed above

"Residents of Barra were pleased on Sunday to see the back of a shady visitor that many Islanders suspect was up to no good. The trouble began late on Saturday night when the man, staying at the Isle of Barra Hotel, approached hotel staff claiming that he needed help to take a bath. “He was a queer sort" said the hotel manager. “Always carrying his camera around and smiling at people.” The man claimed that his bathroom door ‘would not open’, but hotel staff suspected sabotage. A staff member called Martin was dispatched to help. He eventually managed to open the door but only after “putting up with all kinds of deeply personal questions” from the guest who mentioned several times that he “couldn't wait to get his clothes off and get into something warm and wet.” While the staff put this incident down to the odd things visitors from the mainland do - so well known to all Islanders - the trouble continued the next morning. Having failed the night before to coax anyone into his bathroom, the guest this time barricaded himself inside, dressed provocatively in nothing but “a few underclothes” said the shocked hotel staff. He then attempted to conduct a conversation with a shocked woman on a lower floor, who was herself in a state of undress and trying to take a private bath. She alerted staff, who then contacted the constabulary. Once again staff members undertook to 'free' the man. Because he promised to leave Barra immediately, the constabulary decided to take no further action. Yet the man still resisted attempts to usher him off our island, first claiming to have missed the ferry and then pretending to have misplaced his luggage. He was even seen wandering the ferry dock, waving lewdly at complete strangers, who fled to safety in their car. Fortunately, our island folk worked together and gently dispatched this sleazy individual back to the flesh pots of the mainland. Take hearts, fellow Barrans, as tourist season is almost over!"