Matt Marshall

May 2019

Review of the VIP Inn Berna Hotel in Lisbon

I was staying in Lisbon for work and chose the VIP Inn Berna for my accommodation because it was reasonably priced, located very near where I was working, and looked comfortable enough. All hotels are basically all the same anyway. I arrived late in the evening, and the check-in process was very smooth. The young woman on the front-desk was incredibly helpful and spoke immaculate English, assisting me greatly.

Warm, tired, and in desperate need of a shower I ascended the elevator to my room which was clean and spacious. I put away my things and stepped into bathroom to enjoy a cold shower. The shower was attached to the bath and operated with the tap; using one of those manual valves to switch the flow of water between the tap and the shower head. I turned on the water and pulled the valve. Nothing happened. I then noticed a trickle coming out of the tap. "Oh," I thought, "the valve must not be set all the way." I pulled the valve and sure enough I had wrongly set it before, and as I moved it to its proper position I was hit in the head and thrown backwards.

I'm not sure how long I was knocked out but I awoke confused and wet. After a few moments I realised what had happened. The force of the water erupting from the shower was great enough to knock me backwards. Blurry-eyed, still dazed, I climbed to my feet to resume the shower and was instantly beaten down again with a powerful but brief spray of water. I lay there for a time collecting myself as clarity of thought gradually returned, this would have been peaceful if it were not punctuated intermittently by attacks from the errant shower head. I collected myself, and struggled to my feet.

Bipedal once more I surveyed my surroundings, understanding fully for the first time the nature of my foe. The sheer force of the water birthed from the shower head had animated it and the bathroom equipment was now enjoying its emergent vitality by sustaining a course whipping around the room; the jet of water powering its journey. The periodic blasts of water I had experienced while laying dazed were a by-product of its quest to escape.

Bracing myself for another blast I began my first assault. I took a step forward and reached for the shower head but no sooner had I done so than it turned to face me directly; unleashing an icy torrent of water that hit me like a punch. "That was weird", I thought as I once again lay defeated on the floor of the bath. Above me, the shower head gleefully continued to make full use of its newfound dexterity.

The cycle continued. I would brace myself, rise to challenge the serpent, and recieve a beating for my arrogance. I began to wonder whether was this Jörmungandr the giant snake that surrounds the our world. My muscles bunched into knots and my spirit cried for release but I refused to submit to this aqueous demon. I demonstrated my defiance by rising to one knee one last time. This itself was a struggle but nothing compared to what was in store for me when my nemesis once again turned their gaze upon me. No sooner had I attempted to rise than I was subject to an extended spray at full force. Gritting my teeth I raised my arms in front of me as a shield; it was like that we stayed. Locked in battle. At some point, I'm unsure when, I had begun screaming in rage and pain. Time ceased to exist. There was only this. There was always was only this. There could be only this. Only this pain and a burning hatred of the evil forces that condemned me to this hell.

An eternity passed and my torment receded. Bringing me back from the precipice of madness; the serpent gave ground. First one step, then another. Eventually I made it to the source and I reached out blindly. My fingers, numb with pain and cold, grasped the tap and I slowly turned off the water.

The world crashed back into existence and I took a moment to appreciate the sweetness of creation. Drawing back the flimsy shower curtain I gazed upon my face in the bathroom mirror. I was so young when I entered that shower, in the prime of my life. Now my face was lined with age and battle. I stared at the wrinkled creature in the mirror and wept for the years I had lost. Had my battle with the serpent really cost me years? Wearily and with aching joints I made my way back to the bedroom -- how feeble I was now! How weak and slow. I lay on the bed and rested a while.

I awoke an hour or so later and caught a glimpse of myself in the bedroom mirror; my youth had returned! I danced with glee and realised that the most likely explanation for my previous appearance is that the shower serpent's watery assault had stripped all of the oils from my skin and left me a wrinkled husk.

I am keen to return to VIP Inn Berna, as I think I left part of myself behind. This is not poetic language -- I think the shower took a tooth.

8/10 would recommend a stay.

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I'm unsure when I truly became an adult. Is it when I bought a yacht? When I realised I can get around in a foreign city solo? Or when I realised I can afford Pringles that aren't discounted.

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Capitalism and the Planet - a happy May Day to all

Today is 2019-05-01; May the 1st. Commonly referred to as "May Day" the date holds two very special meanings to me and is, I feel, particularly important this year.

The first of these meanings is a very old one. May 1st has traditionally been a spring festival in the Northern Hemisphere. The neopagans have generally re-appropriated this as Beltane. Following the Equinox, it is a fire festival and a celebration of life returning to the Earth after being dormant in the winter. Flowers are out, and everyone dances. It is a reminder of how we are deeply connected to the planet and turning of the seasons and the natural rhythm.

Later in the 19th century, the 1st of May was chosen as the date of International Workers' Day and adopted by the labour movement. In the UK we have a bank holiday associated with the day, that generally falls on the Monday after the day itself. We nearly lost May Day as a bank holiday -- in 2011 the Tories tried to scrap it and move the bank holiday to October to create a "United Kingdom day". I hope I don't need to explain how reactionary that sounds.

With the advent of Extinction Rebellion (XR) I feel the twin meanings of May Day are beginning to converge; and I hope they do as we approach class consciousness. While XR lack a clear direction and severely lack class analysis -- it is the beginning of a mass movement that can be mobilised as a weapon in the war against the ruling class. The ruling capitalist class is the one that oppresses the working class with one hand and abuses the planet with the other. The two are not disconnected, but intrinsically linked in the inefficient, unethical, capitalist mode of production. Workers are driven to poverty wages while the oil and gas industries lobby the bourgeoisie state. Public mass transport -- an inarguably more efficient and more environmentally friendly transport system -- is privatised leading to ticket prices increasing every year while the service spirals into decline. It is workers and the public who bear the brunt of this; faced with an expensive and unreliable service of course most will use private transport. Those who can afford it anyway. That way the car industry remains happy, as to the oil and gas as demand is increased. The privateers running the "public" transport industry can feast on the scraps; workers without the capital to invest in their own vehicle who are now held in neo-serfdom as they pay daily or weekly tithes to the lords of transport. The cherry on top is capital's appropriation of the green message; that it is our fault for using cars all the time. If only we chose to use the bus or the train instead of the car. It's our fault. Don't mind that 100 companies are responsible for 71% of global emissions. The problem isn't the system, it's the fact you use plastic water bottles. I live in Newcastle, and I don't actually remember ever seeing a public water fountain ever.

On this May Day, remember that the struggle for the planet is the struggle against capitalist oppression. To all my spiritual friends, I wish you a happy spring festival. Once the celebrations are done, remember to get angry and stay angry at the ruling class who are stripping us of our deep spiritual connection to the planet.

spirituality may day international workers day solidarity extinction rebellion