Did I Overlook something?
Updated: Mar 23
As millions of people go into quarantine and self-isolation because of Covid-19, many people will be worried about cabin fever and the mental effects of this social exclusion.
A lot of people will probably be reminded of Stephen King’s novel The Shining as they settle in for the season in isolation, with their family and loved ones.
Today I am watching Stanley Kubrick’s masterpiece and am reminded of my own sleepless nights in a hostel which very much reminded me of the fictional Overlook Hotel.
I was starting a job as a headteacher in a new franchise, a few years ago and travelled to a quiet sleepy little town for a team building event in Burgos which is a couple of hundred kilometres north of Madrid. The event was held in a quiet little hostel.
This nice little hostel was more like a small hotel but was far from luxurious and the thing that struck me most about this little Overlook looking hostel was the typewriter in the lobby.
I didn’t see any twins playing in the corridor or anything like that but the lonely typewriter placed on a table in the lobby made me think of Jack Nicholson trying to finish a Stephen King novel.
It was much smaller than the Overlook Hotel we remember from The Shining but this hostel was equally secluded with a quiet little village which I would explore a little later on when I couldn't sleep.
I was sharing a room with someone who snored a lot so I took the time to explore the near-empty building and quiet town.
Strolling through the lobby by the old typewriter, and out into the early morning sunlight, I walked down the road for a few miles and past the fields of crops and cereal and stopped by a cross with wilted flowers that marked a grave by the side of the road.
That was a sign to turn back and get back to the group and try get some sleep before the rest awoke.
We attended some meetings throughout the day and then went to a beautiful village 30 miles away for dinner. Then we returned to our own cozy little hostel where we enjoyed some drinks at the bar.
Llyod the bartender set them up and I knocked them down, I swear he was the best bartender from here to Timbuktu. Ok, I am quoting Jack Nicholson from the film and I don’t remember anything about the barmen except that I ordered some rum and coke from him and never paid a penny for them.
As I reached for my wallet, the academy owner looked at me and said in English,
“Your money’s no good here.”
His comments struck me immediately as it sounded exactly like a quote from Lloyd the bartender in the Stanley Kubrick classic and he was probably joking with me as I had mentioned the eerie Shining feel to the premises. The building was much smaller than The Overlook Hotel and didn’t even have enough room to swing a bat.
There was a strange vibe off that place that I put down to the fact that I couldn’t sleep very well and as a matter of fact, the original Stephen King novel was based on an actual hotel where Stephen King couldn’t manage to sleep and I think he actually had to leave.
Stephen King based The Overlook on The Stanley Hotel in Colorado where he famously stayed in the historic hotel before it closed for the Winter and even had a nightmare where his son was killed.
Horror films don’t help when you want to sleep in a different place, an eerie place surrounded by fields of corn and cereal and I’m sure writers will take inspiration from their immediate environment but for the few sleepless nights I stayed in that hostel, I was glad I was only visiting for a short stay and not taking care of it for the whole Winter.
Unable to sleep with people snoring, I guess they are lucky I didn’t redrum them.