Tuesday, 9 February 2010

The Building That Wouldn't Let Me Leave

I was at a conference this weekend so am a tad behind (seems to be my permanent state this year), so, since someone reminded me of the time when I got my leg stuck in a banister at a conference, I thought I would do a lazy blog post and tell the story.

This conference had been arranged for some time. The building we were having it in is a club/restaurant place in an old building. What we didn't know is that, in the time between the conference being booked and being held, the owners of the building decided to have it completely overhauled, so when we arrived there were workmen, dustsheets and paint tins all over the place.

This place is a big old building on about 4 floors with a huge stone staircase and high ceilings - dark, old and pretty scary when you're the only people in the whole place, apart from the workmen and a couple of skeleton staff (not literally skeletons, but I wouldn't have been surprised to have heard the clanking of chains and seen the odd ghostly nobleman wandering round adjusting his codpiece). Because our course had been arranged for a while the building's management had decided to go ahead with it, but, other than our group, the rest of the building was empty. No problem.

The course was going well and, during the break at lunchtime, I went out into the hallway to use my phone. I was standing on the staircase, talking on the phone, and I had shoved one of my knees in between the ornate metal uprights that made up the banister of the staircase. At the end of the phone call, I switched my phone off and tried to move away. Whoops - my knee was stuck. I whimpered, tugged at my knee and swore. I must have looked like a modern-day Mrs Rochester as I flailed on the staircase moaning "Help....help."

Eventually, I managed to prise myself free - but not before one of the builders had run up the staircase to see what was wrong. Just in time to see my leg pop out of the banister like an overstuffed sausage. I waved gaily and rather hysterically at him, before running back into the room where the meeting was being held, my face rather flushed.

By the end of the day I'd calmed down and I stayed behind at the end to chat to the course trainer about something. We left the room - he went downstairs and out of the building, I decided I needed to go to the loo before going home. So I did. And there I was, happily going about my business, when I heard a noise that sounded like the main door leading to the loos being slammed. I thought nothing of it... until I came to leave. The door leading out of the ladies was locked. I was trapped. I had visions of the builders going home, only to resume work in a couple of months time, and finding my skeleton lying on the floor, my last message scrawled in lipstick on the mirror 'I wish I had more lipsti...'

I knocked tentatively on the door, feeling just a tad silly. No response. I knocked a bit harder. Silence. I swore for 5 minutes before remembering I was a modern, independent woman. I pulled out my trusty mobile phone and dithered over whether I should dial 999 or ring my Dad. Since my Dad was 400 miles away and I really wanted to get home for my tea, and imagining that the fire brigade had more important things to worry about, I dialed the switchboard of the building I was in. After what felt like half an hour the phone was picked up.

"Oh thank God", I said "please could you come and let me out of the toilet."

Silence on the other end of the phone, then a tentative voice "Errrr.....who is this?"

"Well, my name's Donna, but that REALLY won't mean anything to you. I'm stuck in the loo, please could you let me out."

"Where are you exactly?"

"I'm standing by the sink."

"No...I mean which FLOOR are you on."

"Oh, right....ummmm, the floor where the training course was today."

Silence again. "Is that the woman who had her leg stuck in the banister by any chance?"

Yes indeed, my knight in shining overalls was the same workman who'd seen me stuck in the banister earlier that day. I like to think his shoulders were shaking with the cold as he freed me and wished me a safe journey home, but I'm afraid that it was laughter.

Actually, that reminds me of another conference story when I was attacked by a Killer Bee. But that one makes me look even more ridiculous (is that possible?) so maybe I should just draw a discreet veil over that one.


  1. fabulous story, Donna. Hilarious. More please. Killer bee tomorrow perhaps?

  2. Hey, at least you weren't trying to do something inappropriate with the copy machine.


  3. Donna - Please stop by my blog. Something awaits you there : ).

  4. Indiscretion is the better part of blogging, Donna. Once mentioned, you must Tell All.


  5. Michael and Lymaree - I guess I shall have to dig it out then :o)

    Margot - how lovely - thank you very much!

    Chris - ouch! I wonder if he escaped without too much injury.

  6. At least you had your brain with you.

    Have you seen this blog?

    You could be twins.

  7. You're lucky this is a crime blog. If it was a romance blog you would have been obliged to marry the workman.

  8. Bookwitch - that's brilliant - thank you for that link. Reminds me of the time I was stopped at Stanstead with three used chicken satay sticks in my handbag. And also my scary experience at El Paso airport.

    J - LOL. So chisel-jawed as opposed to a blood-drenched chisel in his hand then :o)

  9. Great story! :D
    But why on earth did you shove your knee in there? Was it a boring conversation?

    Killer Bee rhymes with knee. I wonder if there's some kind of dark secret connection between the two incidents.

  10. Nicolai - if I say "Because the railing was there" will that make me sound weird? Your rhyming scenario sounds plausible since there was also the unfortunate incident when I wrecked a hotel's plumbing with a lump of brie (OK, poetic license there - it wasn't actually brie but a much smellier cheese)

  11. Oh, a lazy post - and you are not even ill? So that means I can shout with joy without even having to feel sorry for you?

    If you knew how much you remind me of my wonderful grandmother (the one who happened to throw her false teeth into the stove together with some orange peel) LOL

  12. Nej, Dorte, så gammal är inte Donna!

    Sorry, Donna. Just had to tell her off for suggesting you're old. And smelly cheese should be enjoyed the traditional way, and not go anywhere near any plumbing.

  13. Bookwitch: now I wasn´t talking about my OLD grandmother, but about my LOVELY, funny grandmother - so everybody in my family would realize what a great compliment I intended!

  14. Dorte - I like the sound of your grandmother :o)

    Bookwitch - who are you calling a... well, come to think of it, I have no idea what you just called me. And I quite agree cheese and plumbing definitely do not go together. I love smelly cheese but this one was... evil. We had to get rid of it. Luckily, I had the foresight to throw it down someone ELSE'S toilet, on a different floor of the hotel.

  15. Donna: It sure will! :D
    But don't worry... I find normal people quite boring and therefore consider being weird a positive trait. :)

    I wonder how an evil cheese behaves and what it looks like...