Saturday, June 01, 2013

Crimefest 2: Drop your pants, this is a fire drill

Thank heavens a fire drill emptied my hotel Friday afternoon just as I'd removed my pants preparatory to a refreshing nap. For a moment there  I was afraid I was going to get some rest and recover from my jet lag ...

... and, in retrospect, that turned out to be a relatively enjoyable parts of my day. I shall expose the institutions on both sides of the Atlantic that tried so hard to make my life a misery, but I'll wait until I'm safely home and out of their clutches.

Meanwhile, the Crimefest part of Crimefest makes me feel like Juan Antonio Samaranch, the former head of the International Olympic Committee who would inevitably declare each recently concluded Olympics "the best Games ever." This six-year-old festival keeps getting better and better. More snapshots from its first two days:

Ali Karim said: "America is mental."

William McIlvanney said: "Glasgow has an opinion about everything."  A hard city of hard men? said the father of tartan noir. "I don't think it's hard so much as confrontational."

Michael Sears, half of the writing team of Michael Stanley, suggested a reason police in southern Africa may be less than eager to investigate cases of humans killed and dismembered for use of their body parts in religious rituals:  "Partly because they're scared of the witch doctors, partly because they're scared of who might be paying the witch doctors."

McIlvanney again, on the impetus for his Laidlaw novels: "I wanted to acquaint straight society with its darker side, to introduce Mr. Hyde to Dr. Jekyll."

Ruth Dudley Edwards, speaking during a panel on crime and humor, of herself and her Irish countryman Declan Burke: "We were both brought up in a society of performers."

Aly Monroe, an author new to me, on why she made the protagonist of her espionage series an economist: "Because the Cold War was all about money."

John Lawton, a fellow member of Monroe's panel on Cold War espionage fiction: "The thing about spies is that they can't wait to tell you things."

© Peter Rozovsky 2013

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11 Comments:

Blogger seana graham said...

I'm really intrigued by Lawton's comment.

Sorry about the institutionally induced woes...

June 01, 2013  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

The gist of Lawton's comments, I think (and I may be extrapolating somewhat) is that spies have more in common with one another than they do with their own countrymen -- that spying, in other words, is a far more human enterprise than one might otherwise think. Ostensible enemies, that is, may share a drink after work.

In any case, I recommend his Troy novels, if you have not read them.

June 01, 2013  
Blogger Richard L. Pangburn said...

Nice quotes, thanks.

June 02, 2013  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

You're welcome. A coherent written argument is not always the easiest thing to make at 3 or 4 in the morning upon return from the hotel bar, and such digests of quotations make a good substitute.

June 02, 2013  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Seana: I am highly unlikely to return tp the Ibis Bristol Centre hotel for a fifth Crimefest next year. Curiosity will like impel me to at least wonder whether the hotel plans to retore Internet serive in 2014 or, failing that, functioning phones.

(As I type this in the lobby at the public computer I am forced to use because the wireless connection has broken down, another customer is trying to resolve a booking problem. This hotel or the chain that runs it may be in the midst of organizational breakdown.)

June 02, 2013  
Blogger seana graham said...

Well, I hope there are some other options in Bristol, then. When things go wrong I a hotel, they really go wrong sometimes. My sister flew into New Orleans just before some big storm knocked out power to the downtown. It was a very fancy hotel, but all they could do was hand her a flashlight and wish her luck finding her room.

June 02, 2013  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

This reminds me of recent talk of about conspiracies and the people who believe in them. This succession of problems could be a series of unforeseeable coincidences. My first suspicion, though, is not a conspiracy, but rather the result of some bright headquarters spark's decision to increase the company's value by maximizing efficiencies through cutbacks.

June 02, 2013  
Blogger seana graham said...

Cutting back on wireless is probably not the best business idea I've ever heard.

June 02, 2013  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

They didn't cut back on wireless. Rather, my guess, which I make with no foundation other than a suspicion of how corporations operate, is that they cut back on the hotel business' equivalent of copy editors: the people who are there to answer technical questions and fix problems.

The Ibis hotels have the sensible idea of saving money by combining various jobs. So the counter of the bar and restaurant is an extension of the front desk, and, at slow times, at least, the desk clerk is the same person who will serve you a drink. (And, by the way, the food areas always appear immaculately clean.)

I don't know how the employees feel about this arrangement, but it generally causes no more than negligible delays. So that's why I had the idea that the maximizing efficiency to better serve our valued customers may have gone a bit too far. The problems may have been unavoidable. I'm not sure I can say the same for the way the staff was equipped to handle them.

I did eventually get my connection back, which is why I am typing this in my room instead sleeping off four days of Crimefest. I check out tomorrow. It will be interesting to see that kind of a sendoff I get.

June 02, 2013  
Blogger seana graham said...

Okay, I get it now. I am very familiar with the 'cutting back on staff' model of efficiency. And sadly, I think employers tend to justify it well beyond a sustainable point. I'm sure it's a huge temptation.

June 02, 2013  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Such cutbacks as there may have been probably happened years ago. The hotel has operated this way at least for the four years I've been coming here, and I've had no complaints. It's probably a sensible way to run an affordable hotel. So I hope my problems this time were one-offs rather than the result of cutbacks. I'll probably think about this again when it comes time to make a reservation for next year's Crimefest.

June 02, 2013  

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