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  • Dougie

The curse that keeps on giving

The English writer Horace Walpole (1717 - 1797) is often credited with writing the first ever Gothic novel. His story, The Castle of Otranto, was written in 1764. It tells the story of a haunted house (the aforementioned castle) a family curse and the untimely death -- by which I mean on his wedding day -- of the Prince's son who is crushed by a mysterious giant stone helmet.

This isn't a spoiler by the way. Conrad's tragic crushing takes place (off stage) on page two. It's all downhill from there.

I mention this factoid for one reason only. Unlike Horace Walpole, I've actually been to Otranto. Today for possibly the first and only time. I even visited but did not enter the lethal castle.

I like Otranto. It's a rather lovely place.

I wanted to mention the fact that I like Otranto first because it seems the curse of Dougie struck our hotel choice once again. I do wonder. Is it bad luck? Have I lost the knack because it's been six years?

Am I cursed?

Answers on a postcard please to -- You are Cursed Dougie Herd ...

My brother made the arrangements based on my very explicit set of simple needs. We even gave the owners the exact maximum width measurement of my wheelchair.

  • level, lift or ramp entrance to the hotel and room

  • wet-floor shower room -- no hob on shower and no narrow cabinet door.

  • maximum width of chair ... 67 cms.

This is the access to the hotel.

Up a broken kerb cut to the bar. Two steps up from the bar to the entrance with the rooms.

There's a lift in the bar down to the lavatories but they are not designed to any access standard. There is a lift inside the building up to rooms above ground floor. Six steps to the lift.

The bathroom door is sixty-five centimetres; too narrow for my wheelchair but manageable in my shower chair.

The shower has both a hob and a narrow glass cubicle to step into it.

Did I swear? No. Did Difficult Dougie come out to intervene? No.

Neither would have changed a thing. I would not even have experienced the momentary sugar hit of righteous indignation.

We were in Otranto with my brother and Stephanie so they and Spike could swim in the Adriatic Sea. We thought we had given everything the hotel would need to tell us yes or no to my requirements. But no. So we figured out work arounds to washing, showering, getting on with it. We could have returned to the Trullo but that would have disappointed us all.

It's not our fault the hotel is run by nincompoops. So we stayed. It was for one night only.

We went to see Otranto. Too many people had been crushed by this place, according to Horace. And we are on our holidays. So we strolled down the winding hill to the old town in the morning heat. As I rolled down the hill I thought, "fuck you curse, I'm going on the road."

We did the whole tourist enchilada.

We wandered by the jetty.

We bumped our way up and down the hill to the castle through the tourist trap's quaint streets but we are not tourist fish and we were not biting.

The swimmers swam in the warm Adriatic.

Then the 'rabbit' in the moon came out (I think I see it). And the tourists posed with a view.

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