Petersfield residents who came to the aid of stranded motorists last week have hailed the ‘Blitz spirit’ that prevailed.
One hotelier, Ribena Poison-Tombliboo, opened up her establishment at Languish Hall, despite the fact that it was closed for refurbishment – and within five minutes stranded motorists had taken advantage and moved in.
“We were overwhelmed,” she said. “They were straight out of their cars and into the hotel within seconds of hearing the words ‘no charge’.
“Many of them were working class and it was obviously something of an experience for them to see rooms that didn’t have peeling wallpaper and buildings not covered in satellite dishes.
“Dozens bedded down on the floor and you got this tremendous sense of what it must have been like in the Underground stations during the Blitz. Especially as some of them brought rats with them, pissed on the telephone table and left litter and used condoms strewn across the parquet flooring.
“One of them brought in a workman’s brazier and we gathered round it all night. Well they did; obviously we were upstairs in the Georgian state bedroom.
“There was even one old boy selling the Evening Standard and playing the spoons. We’ve no idea where he came from because he didn’t have a car. But he had a load of Hershey bars and silk stockings.
“They were all so grateful. Many of them said they’d come back in the warmer weather and stay for a weekend – bless them. They’ll never be able to afford £200 per night, but everybody should have a dream.”
To cope with the influx of custom, Mrs Poison-Tombliboo was forced to airlift-in emergency supplies from Waitrose or, as it's known to her, "the larder".