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There's Always One

Thande

Flixton Slick - Super−Sleuth!
Published by SLP
#2
Fascinating account, and a very good point for how this could be used to avoid too much "As you know, Bob" exposition. A journalist or someone who's just come to a place like that is someone who really would want the current political situation explained to them in excruciating detail to avoid putting a foot wrong...
 

David Flin

A home of love and laughter.
#4
It reminds me of the fantasy trope of 'the one Inn where all the disreputable adventurers gather' in having that same utility of being able to get all your characters in one place with good reason, only this one actually happened.
Not just one. It seems that anywhere and anytime such people gather, there is always one such place. Europa, Intercontinental, Commodore, Al-Hambra, Enugu in Biafra ... The list goes on.

Maybe the fantasy trope is more grounded in reality than it appears.
 

Death's Companion

General Ugg Apologist.
#5
I have to ask about the Europa, given its accolade as "the most bombed Hotel in the world" it seems to have been directly attacked a few times. Though I suppose given the amount of bombs compared to the amount of dead people may well argue it was a slightly more bangy game of the grenade tip from the Commodore.
 

David Flin

A home of love and laughter.
#6
All these places were directly attacked at some stage; safe is relative.

I never stayed at the Europa, so I can't comment on how bombed it compares to elsewhere. I understand it was bombed 36 times during the Troubles, which comes out on average a bit over one every years. Averages are misleading, however, and the attack frequency ebbed and flowed with the intensity of the Troubles.

The biggest attack was in 1993, which caused it to be shut for major refurbishment. The first public event was held in 1995, when work towards the Good Friday Agreement was underway, and lots of people were putting lots of pressure on lots of groups to consider the possibility that blowing each other up had got no-one anywhere over a 30 year period, and maybe trying the insane idea of talking rather than shooting people might be better. Bill and Hilary Clinton have come in for much criticism for many things over the years, but they deserve some credit for being among the guests of the reopened hotel to lend their weight to bringing about an end to the Troubles.

It's claim as the most bombed Hotel in the World is tosh. There were over 36 attacks - by rocket launcher, artillery, grenade, and bombs from aircraft - on the Commodore Hotel in the period January to March 1976 alone. Coco didn't learn the sound an artillery shell makes in flight from recordings.

Safe is a relative term.
 

Charles EP M.

Well-known member
Published by SLP
#7
There are details in this article that if you put them in a story, I'd go "well that's a funny absurd thing he put in as light relief" until I got to the afterword and saw "Coco was real, here is a photo"
 

Redolegna

Champagne Socialist
Moderator
Published by SLP
Location
Paris
Pronouns
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#8
It reminds me of the fantasy trope of 'the one Inn where all the disreputable adventurers gather' in having that same utility of being able to get all your characters in one place with good reason, only this one actually happened.
Isn't there a Pratchett book (might not be Discworld, maybe Good Omens) where he opens a paragraph with the exact line 'there's always one'?
 

Geordie

We're going to privatise swans
Published by SLP
Pronouns
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#10
For obvious reasons, for those who read it, I am strongly reminded of The Death of Lt Arthur Windsor, RN.

The bodyguard, in particular. Academically speaking, the concept of such a place makes sense. The dynamics of it coalescing interest me. Presumably, nobody just declares it to be the case; it develops somewhat organically, and is increasingly recognised as a place to do business, until it's recgonised as such by all. Or almost all. It's a reinforcing feedback loop, but presumably, there were dozens of other hotels in Beirut that it could have been.

I'm not expecting there to be an answer here. This is just idle speculation. There's always one indeed, but why that one?
 

David Flin

A home of love and laughter.
#11
I'm not expecting there to be an answer here. This is just idle speculation. There's always one indeed, but why that one?
I'll take a stab at answering that in an upcoming article in the series. I can only really talk about Beirut; circumstances elsewhere might be different.

There were indeed dozens of hotels in Beirut. That is, until the Battle of the Hotels (1975-1977). Rough summary: the Minet-el-Hosn hotel district had a lot of high-rise hotels (some completed, some not) that overlooked several militia areas. Naturally, these hotels became the objectives of some heavy fighting in order to gain access to areas from which one could fire unmolested into enemy territory.

The hotel district became an uncomfortable place to be. The Commodore wasn't in this district.

Nonetheless, the issue of why a particular place becomes a neutral zone is an interesting one.
 

Geordie

We're going to privatise swans
Published by SLP
Pronouns
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#12
There were indeed dozens of hotels in Beirut. That is, until the Battle of the Hotels (1975-1977). Rough summary: the Minet-el-Hosn hotel district had a lot of high-rise hotels (some completed, some not) that overlooked several militia areas. Naturally, these hotels became the objectives of some heavy fighting in order to gain access to areas from which one could fire unmolested into enemy territory.

The hotel district became an uncomfortable place to be. The Commodore wasn't in this district.
Definitely a logic there. I look forward to the follow up article.
 

Alex Richards

Lifetime cathedrals built: 8
Patreon supporter
Published by SLP
Location
Derbyshire
#13
I'll take a stab at answering that in an upcoming article in the series. I can only really talk about Beirut; circumstances elsewhere might be different.

There were indeed dozens of hotels in Beirut. That is, until the Battle of the Hotels (1975-1977). Rough summary: the Minet-el-Hosn hotel district had a lot of high-rise hotels (some completed, some not) that overlooked several militia areas. Naturally, these hotels became the objectives of some heavy fighting in order to gain access to areas from which one could fire unmolested into enemy territory.

The hotel district became an uncomfortable place to be. The Commodore wasn't in this district.

Nonetheless, the issue of why a particular place becomes a neutral zone is an interesting one.
Looking at a map, being close enough to the city centre to be accessible while not being next to any really strategic or significant targets (Parliament buildings, ports, railway station etc.) must be in the mix as well.