“Good morning, welcome to the Hotel Blah-de-blah, I’m your TUI team leader and my job here is to make sure you all have a fantastic holiday here in Fuengirola”
And so the welcome speech begins, again. I’m sat watching from the sidelines, smiling like a Madame Tussaud’s waxwork and trying not to spill the complimentary Orange Juice down my blouse. There are six of us clad in Blue, awaiting our introduction alongside the Blanket Trip representative sporting a canary yellow ensemble whom I fear may be nodding off before our team leader even reaches the merits as to why you need to book your trips with us as opposed to the half price bucket shop down the road.
I look around the room. The average age of the clientele is around 93 and there’s no guarantee all of them will make it to the end of the 50 minute speech. The air conditioning unit wheezes into life and jolts awake several elderly patrons, reminding them that they are on holiday and need to stay conscious for at least some of their pensioner’s vacation.
I catch the eye of one of the entertainments team and we wink at each other in unison. These youngsters are the glue that holds the hotel together, performing west end worthy shows in the evening after a day of interacting with the guests in various activities around the pool. They know the score; all of them have been hired following extensive auditions in the UK to ensure everyone has a great time onsite. Scores for the hotel must remain high because if they chose to do another season with Tui, their next curtain call could be in Florida as opposed to Fuengirola. Point’s makes prizes; the constant carrot dangled in front the TUI employee’s nose.
I’m sure when they applied for the roles; wide eyed and fresh out of drama school they didn’t envisage a day of shuffleboard and French boules adorning their crispy white untarnished CV but this is the reality of most actors worlds and like all professionals, they rise to the occasion with a smile and a caffeine laden drink.
I look up towards the ceiling and wipe sweat off my menopausal brow. The meeting is well into its stride. Pickpockets and prickly heat have been touched upon, train timetables are being hastily noted down on welcome packs and we are rapidly heading towards the bread and butter of the speech, excursions.
I think back to the past month and try and remember which inland adventures I have attended, each one morphing into the next. Museums, mosques, mountains, information overload. Sitting on a coach at 8am each morning, watching the younger reps vomit into their rucksacks after an alcohol fuelled outing the night before. Patting their inexperienced backs and trying to keep them away from the incredibly young area manager who joined us each day on the tours. Fighting the desire to yell ‘I’ve got cheese in my fridge older than you’ whenever he pointed out an obvious fact regarding how we were expected to behave in front of the paying guests also on the tour.
“And now Paula is going to come up and tell you about Romantic Ronda! Gentleman, you can go to sleep now”.
My name breaks through the deluge of memories and drags me back into reality. I stand up and brush invisible crumbs of my skirt and head over to the rostrum and smile encouragingly towards my ever deflating audience. All these people who sit before me have come for a nice holiday and not to listen to middle aged reps wax lyrical on how they should spend their money. With this in mind I take a deep breath and perform a short comedy monologue on Riotous Ronda and then return to my seat, applause rings around the room as the team leader brings the meeting to a close.
Dragging my Tablet out of the bag I fire it up and stand at the table nearest to exit awaiting the arrival of any guests that fancy spending their hard earned cash on a trip to Morocco or Marbella.
An elderly lady pushes her way through the ever decreasing crowd and waves a shaky finger in my direction
“Jane Macdonald, that’s who you remind me off, I bloody love her on that cruise programme”
Smiling I lean down and whisper conspiratorially “It’s a shame I haven’t got her money. Now, can I interest you in a nice day trip to see the apes in Gibralter?”
To be continued…
A New Wife in the Sun is available for proof reading, wedding speeches, radio presenting and anything that involves not having to smile at people for any amount of time.