"You get what you pay for" Aarati said to Tracee, as our young colleague turned over a limp piece of her lunchtime wrap to reveal a dollop of very apologetic looking salsa on its underside. Tracee had gone for the 'Crazeee Deal for £75p' at the Staa Diner behind the closed bingo hall off the high street.
"How does that explain our great uncle Tom coming back from North Africa with syphilis after the war?" Tracee snapped back, although we all suspect Aarati's point had been made by the content of Tracee's retort.
Out of curiosity we looked up the word 'premier' in the Oxford English Dictionary this morning. It sets out the meaning as 'first in importance, order, or position; leading', and then, as part of the research on this afternoon's (Monday 22 September) story about Premier Inn, we had a check through Trip Advisor's reviews of the hotel brand. As well as those who appear to be mesmerised by an iron, some sachets of tea and running water are stories such as, "our stay was a non-stop cacophony of bangs, crashes, bumps, slams, whirring, and vibrating", (it wasn't made clear whether this was the hotel's fault, or a full-on reconnection after a particularly bad row). Also, "The only reason to stty (sic) at a Premier Inn is because it should have consistent service - otherwise it is far better to stay somewhere interesting." Like, Machu Picchu, you mean?
This morning the owner of the Premier Inn chain of hotels and Brewers Fayre restaurants, Whitbread, said it planned to shed up to 6,000 staff but hoped the majority of the planned losses could be made voluntarily. For those keeping up, these numbers are on top of the 130 head office cuts previously disclosed. It is all very disappointing for the hotel chain which underwent a major review of why people stay in their properties, discovering that much of the business they enjoy is the result of 'returns'. Not, we suspect, returning to pick up forgotten keys, returning to get their car out of the car-park at the end of the day having sneaked seven hours of free parking, or a return to complain about the noise or the view of Ipswich.
Whitbread explained that business was down by almost 80 per cent during the first half of its financial year to 27 August, as a result of the lockdown that forced the closure of most sites. It also got fairly aeriated about the much criticised conclusion to the Government's Job Retention Scheme, which for those of you who have just come round from a coma is due to be wound down completely at the end of October.
"Grrr, we want the Government to pay all of our staff salaries forever and get us off the hook," a spokesperson for Whitbread didn't say, but it was implied by the gruffness of their demeanour.
Don't despair, you can still book a room at the Premier Inn in Grantham on Thursday night for £36, which is a bit of a bargain, given that it is 'first in importance, order, or position leading' and you still can't get a night's stay under £190 at nearby 10 Cliff Lane in the same town, which also supplies irons and running water.