The Privilidged Few

While backpacking one summer with my brother, we had planned on staying two nights at Portmeirion hotel in Wales as it had a certain cult status among fans of 'The Prisoner' TV series which had been filmed there during the 60's.
I was 18 at the time and it was my first experience of mixing with people who one could class as being extremely wealthy. The cost of the hotel rooms was astronomical so we had a cottage in the grounds instead for just two nights which was still expensive but not quite so crippling to our budget.
The grandeur of the hotel interior was palacial and as we passed through to the dining room for our evening meal I glanced through open doors at extremly plush and extravagantly decorated rooms which each had a paricular emphasis on one certain colour. The Blue room was my favourite as it had the most luxurious shades of dark and light blue all working together in great harmony with the gold mouldings,curtains and carpet patterns. The rooms were all empty though and suggested they were only available for specific purposes or for special guests.

The dining room was the least elegant of all the rooms but still very stylish and grand for just eating in and as we sat among mostly upper class people all dressed very dignified and smart I couldn't help noticing how decidedly sombre, miserable and even bored they all looked. One woman on our left was complaining to a rather frightened looking waiter about some detail of her food and on our right was a tired old man who was at least in his sixties sharing a table with three really attractive young girls all in their twenties who were laughing and fawning around him in a very artificial manner; but in helping to keep the atmosphere reasonably light it was better to hear fake laughter than none at all. Some couples ate in silence as though a lifetime of marriage had drained them of all conversation and others sat with stern faces making small but no doubt highly articulate and important remarks to each other ,perhaps about stocks and shares, nameworthy connections, or just discussing the merits of certain wines . Feeling a little lost and incompetent though we both just sat quietly, looking nervously at the cutlery, wondering which knife or fork was the proper choice.

My brother and I were pleasantly surprised after dinner to find that we had the whole of the outside grounds to ourselves. As we explored a little before walking slowly back to our cottage a beautiful sunset was settling over the beach and gardens surrounding, but the tourists wouldn't get to see this as they had to be gone by 6pm and the rich who could, preferred to hug the bars instead. Then some way from the hotel we could hear dance music and it was coming from a dark green wooden cabin that blended neatly into the trees running beside us. As we wandered nearer we could hear the sound of fun and laughter coming from the open door and one of the waiters who had served us came wandering out and gave us a very warm friendly smile, telling us they were having a bit of a party. A girl came out looking for him and asked us if we wanted to join them. It was such a lovely casual party that we couldn't help but be drawn into the relaxed atmosphere of it and the staff were still half wearing their outfits. We were just in jeans and t-shirts ourselves. The drinks had been smuggled out of the restauraunt, but with the head waiters approval as a sort of perk. It was a really wonderful evening and when we got back to our room that night, I couldn't help feeling that it was us that had truly been the most priviliged people that evening.
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51-55, M
Jan 6, 2013